Living History Center Project

The Concept

We have an aggressive, but manageable, plan to purpose build a permanent site dedicated to historical reenacting and other history related educational events. The concept of a sort of reenactor land or reenactment village has been floated many times before and we are going to make it a reality. This site will include a vehicle road network, a museum with vehicle restoration work shops, trenches and bunkers, historical villages, and WWI-WWII period props of all size and description. Not only will it be the ideal place for historical reenactments of several eras, spanning the late 1800's-present day, but it will be the perfect place for operating military hardware rather than keeping it cooped up in a stuffy museum environment.

The site is to be constructed in multiple phases to ensure manageable chunks are completed in a timely manner and are built properly. The end goal will be a site with at least 100 acres and potential to expand in the future. On the initial property, we will construct an extensive road network for operating historical vehicles in realistic conditions; this road network will connect multiple small period historical villages and structures with woods and other terrain in between. Within this same operations area, there will be extensive trenchworks, and bunkers as well as numerous period props and other decorations to create a realistic, movie set like environment. Walking into this site will be like stepping back in time. We are not just saying that, our intention is to make it so realistic that even just the site itself is surreal and inspiring. A well done site will spark an interest for just about anyone. 

Part of this site will have a turn of the century sawtooth roof factory structure which will serve as a museum space, vehicle storage/display, workshops for restoration work, and spaces for hosting other related events like militaria shows and exhibitions. This space will allow vehicle owners to keep their vehicle on a site where it can be driven and used and not just shown as a static display. Interactive history is the best education tool.

Many people have dreamt of this, you could say that its been many years in the making, but it is time to make to bring it to life. Although many have dreamed, we are making a concerted effort and already enjoy broad support and can draw from considerable experience in many fields from construction and manufacturing, to event planning and beyond. We can get this done, but we do need your help. 

This site will be the home of reenacting and military living history for decades to come.

 

Phase 1

All big dreams must start somewhere on the road to becoming a reality. Phase 1 is focused on fundraising through subscriptions to the Living History Center Project and through memberships, donations and other contributions. In Phase One, we want to raise adequate funds for a down payment and establish a cashflow to make payments on a mortgage. The hardest part is getting started, but if you believe in this concept and you want to see it built in your lifetime, the time to support it is now. 

We already have a parcel of land in our sights that is 105 acres in Salem, Ohio which can be purchased at a reasonable price and is ideally suited for our purposes. This parcel of land also adjuncts a few others which can contribute to expanding the usable space. There is at least another 20 acres which can partly be used and very good odds of securing upward of another 300 acres, if funding permits, over time.

Timeline: Land is to be purchased in early 2021

Total cost estimate: $125,000 - $150,000

Bare minimum to begin: $40,000

 

Phase 2

Constructing a parking lot and road network to provide access across the new site is the next major hurdle for the organization. For this project, we have already organized several pieces of equipment on a donation or free rent basis to help construct these roads and for digging trenches and bunkers. For all intensive purposes, labor costs will be negligible as we have a number of skilled volunteers, uniquely qualified of this type of work.

The road network will lay the foundation for all future development and give us access to the furthest reaches of the property so that we can begin digging the beginnings of a network of trenches, bunkers and other positions around the site. In this time period, we will also clear space and plan for the construction of the first "settlement" on the site. This will consist primarily of a period barracks complex built to correct period specifications from correct materials. The barracks will provide facilities for events and weekend housing for members working on the site. A barracks design has been selected based on is function, ease of construction and ubiquitous nature applicable to many areas of operation in the WWII European theater. The barracks themselves will be constructed, one at a time, in progression as funds and time allow. The first barracks could be built in the summer of 2021 with more following over the coming fall and winter.

 

Timeline: From the completion of phase 1, it will take; 2 months to survey and construct the the initial parking lot and road network, The barracks can be completed within the first 3 months and construction of barracks will continue a further 6 months.

Estimated total cost: $112,000 (5 Barracks)

Cost of parking lot and roads: $12,000

Cost per barracks: $15,000

Cost of restroom facility: $25,000

 

Phase 3

Museum construction begins. We want every structure on site to blend in with the historical theme and to do that, while keeping the budget and project scale manageable. The museum building will take the form of a steel building designed with a saw tooth roof, like a turn of the century factory with each tooth segment comprising a phase of construction. In this way, we can begin with a single bay and add additional bays as we expand.

This first building segment will primarily serve as on site storage and display for historical military vehicles. This will allow not only our organization to display and store our vehicles but it will provide other vehicle owners on site storage so that they can display their vehicle for the world to enjoy and also have their vehicle stored on the perfect site for them to operate and enjoy driving it in a historical setting. For these vehicle owners, this site will be a bit like keeping your airplane stored in a hanger at the airport; keep your vehicle stored in a place where you can use it. Many museums will display vehicles that are on loan to them but with this arrangement, the owners of those vehicles will also have room to run their vehicles and this will also lay the ground work for world class vehicle events in the future; on par with events like Militracks in Overloon, Belgium.

If support for the project holds, the first segment of this building could be built within 2 to 3 years of purchasing the land or as soon as funding is available. 

 

Timeline: First museum wing completed within 2 years.

Total cost: $80,000 -$100,000

Phase 4

With adequate barracks and a road network in place, we will be able to erect the first primitive village designed as a generic European village comprised mostly of timber structures. Our end goal is to build multiple villages of varied styles to create something greater than your standard historical village. While we may begin with a village made up of simple wood homes, the end goal is to have a decently size European village with streets, shops, and properly constructed buildings of the era to provide a truly immersive urban environment. We do not want to build cheesy prop houses, we want coming to this site to be roughly equivalent to visiting Europe in the early 1900's.

Timeline: 3-5 years

Estimated cost: $105,000

Estimated average cost per structure: $15,000

 

Further Development 

Beyond the phases listed above, there will be additional villages, in various construction styles, and continued additions to the factory complex museum building, more bunkers and trenches, as well as land expansions. The phases above spell out our goals and direction while leaving enough flexibility to bend plans as needed depending on funding, and other resources.

 

In summary

In short, this is possible and it can be built sooner that you might think; all we are missing is your support. Every little bit helps and we can make even the smallest contribution go a long way.  We know what to do and we know what not to do. After decades of involvement in historical reenactments we have identified precisely what needs to happen to make this a reality. Ideas like this that have been floated in the past and virtually all have failed for similar reasons and we fully understand those reasons.

This is a public endeavor; with every penny raised, every building built, and every hole dug supporting the non-profit so that these improvements are not temporary but instead can last in perpetuity with the organization. We are pulling together to build something greater than ourselves that will make a positive impact far beyond us. Past experience has shown, ventures which take place on someone's private property or property not belonging to a dedicated organization will fail eventually. For this to become a reality, we must all work together and chip in what we can to secure a dedicated site. The handful of sites which belong to dedicated organizations survive and can even thrive with the right leadership, guidance and adequate support. This site will be completely dedicated to re-enacting and military vehicles. We plan to hold our own events and to rent it out for others to host their events here as well. The site will also be available for training events, educational events, exhibitions and so on. Military living history can put down roots here so it can grow and advance.

We know what to do, we have the tools, motivation, skill, and a plan. We just need your support to make it happen. 

Please support us either by donating, joining, volunteering, or subscribing to the reenactor land project. Links below.