Historic Westville redefines “living history” by providing experiences that transform the way we think about the past and remind us that history lives in our thoughts, actions, and understanding of the present.
Through exhibits, live interpretations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, you can curate your own museum experience each time you visit.
Historic Westville is an accumulation of nearly a century of preserving the past. Several of our buildings and artifacts were first collected by John Word West of Jonesboro, Georgia, in the 1920s for “The Fair of 1850,” an outdoor museum showcasing Georgia vernacular architecture and folkways. Westville Historic Handicrafts was formed in 1966 to purchase much of this original collection and move it to Lumpkin, Georgia, where the museum continued to grow as it became a haven for endangered buildings of the area.
There, guests experienced “life in the 1850s” and learned about regional lifeways before the sweeping mechanization of the late 19th century. In 2001, the name was changed to Historic Westville as the focus shifted to telling the stories of our region’s past. Today, Westville continues its legacy of preservation as a museum of southern history and culture by examining the diversity of people in this region and investigating how we remember the past, what stories we choose to tell, and how we use history to inform our daily lives.
Once completed, Westville will cover the entire 19th century and be organized into four interpretive areas, designed to examine diverse experiences due to race, class and gender while showing how lives were inextricably linked. The Creek Indian area conveys stories of the Creek people, their culture, and the lasting effects of removal. The frontier interpretive area interprets the lifeways of settlers who pushed the western boundaries with the expansion of cotton that enriched the American and European economies. The rural area exhibits the reliance on cotton and the cultures springing from resistance to the slave and sharecropping systems defining rural southern life of the time. Our town center is the vibrant hub of craft, trade, political and social life.
Historic Westville illuminates the personal experiences of those who called the region home.
As you gain a new understanding of the forces—and peoples—that shaped the South and define our sense of place, you can begin to imagine what the future holds.