Discover / Village of Zoar
Save a National Treasure
REGION: Midwest
Zoar, OH
TYPE: Building
Village of Zoar | Photo by Andy Donaldson
Village of Zoar | Photo by Andy Donaldson

Great News for Zoar

Work with local organizations and government agencies to ensure the preservation of a 195-year-old village.


The historic Village of Zoar, home to nearly 200 residents, is protected from flooding by a levee built in the 1930s. Record floods in 2005, however, raised concern about the levee’s integrity. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started a three-year study to assess the levee’s future. One of many alternatives under consideration is removing it entirely, which could require the relocation or demolition of 80% of this remarkable historic village. 

UPDATE – November 2013
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is no longer considering removal of the levee that protects the Village of Zoar. This means that the greatest threat to Zoar—relocation or demolition of the historic community—is off the table.  The news reflects the Army Corps’ appreciation of Zoar’s historic and cultural importance. The National Trust will remain involved through the rest of the Corps’ study, which will now be completed within one year, to ensure that repairs have minimal impact on the historic Village of Zoar. Stay tuned to our updates page for more information about our progress and how you can continue to support this project throughout the next year.

National Significance

The Village of Zoar was founded in 1817 by a group of separatists who fled Germany in search of religious freedom. Not only does Zoar help to tell the story of immigration to the United States, it illustrates the history of settlement throughout this region. As part of a multi-year study of alternatives for solving the Zoar levee problem, the Army Corps is following a review process that requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their activities on historic properties. Through the process, the Army Corps should seek alternatives that will protect Zoar.

Campaign Goals

  • Save the Village of Zoar from catastrophic flooding, relocation, or demolition.
  • Raise public awareness about Zoar’s historic significance.

Ways To Help

Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers you support saving the Village of Zoar.

Donate to our campaign to save the Village of Zoar.

Tell us why the Village of Zoar matters to you.

Posted on March 31, 2014

JSandy headshot
Zoar cabin April 2013Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

It’s beginning to look a lot like spring in the Village of Zoar, which means one thing—opening day at the Historic Zoar Village!  Admission is free to residents of Stark, Summit, and Tuscarawas counties.  The Zoar Community Association’s free Saturday Speaker series continues too—this Saturday, April 5th, you can learn what life was like for a female doctor during the Civil War. 

Celebrate the arrival of spring with a visit to Zoar this weekend!

Please check back often for additional updates on the Village of Zoar. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on March 05, 2014

JSandy headshot2Zoar weaving classWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

One of the Village of Zoar’s strengths as a historic site is helping visitors understand what life was like for Zoarites during the peak of the communal settlement.  Each member of the Society – men and women both – was assigned to a particular job or craft, like farming, dairying, weaving, baking, or carpentry.  The products of their labor were shared equally among all the town’s residents.

The Zoar Community Association makes sure to teach visitors about this communal system during the tours and programs that take place when the Historic Zoar Village sites are open, from April to December.  But even during the off-season, Zoar Community Association engages the public and brings new visitors to town through their educational programs and workshops.  This March, you can take classes on the textile arts in Zoar, including spinning wool into yarn, rug hooking, and loom weaving.  Wait until April if blacksmithing is more your style—both beginning and intermediate classes will be offered. 

Through these interactive workshops and educational programs, the Village of Zoar is exemplifying one of the National Trust’s Preservation Priorities—Re-imagining Historic Sites.  National Trust President Stephanie Meeks highlighted the challenges and opportunities faced by America’s many historic house museums in her opening plenary speech at the National Preservation Conference last fall.  One of her recommended approaches, Reprogramming for Mission-Related Use, is exactly the strategy that the Zoar Community Association has been following over the past several years, and they’ve seen visitation numbers increase dramatically. 

Participants in ZCA’s workshops not only learn a new craft—and take home a hand-woven or forged keepsake—they gain an appreciation for the Zoarite way of life, and hopefully become lifelong supporters of the Village of Zoar historic site.  

Please check back often for additional updates on the Village of Zoar. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on February 18, 2014

JSandy headshotZoar School House winterWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

The Village of Zoar may be covered by a blanket of snow right now, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing happening in town.  Zoar Community Association just kicked off their Saturdays in Zoar speaker series for 2014, featuring a range of educational topics and presenters throughout the year.  This free programming brings people to Zoar all year long, even when the museum buildings are closed, and was recognized by an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Ohio Local History Alliance last year.  Mark the first Saturday of the month on your calendar and spend the afternoon in Zoar learning about topics in history ranging from Civil War letters to the covered bridges of Tuscarawas County.  It doesn’t hurt that the Village of Zoar is beautiful in any season.  Snap a few photos and think spring.  Opening day for Zoar’s museums isn’t too far away! 

Please check back often for additional updates on the Village of Zoar. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on January 28, 2014

JSandy headshot2Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager
Zoar relief well example

In the wake of November's good news lifting the threat of demolition of Zoar levee, the Army Corps has been busy narrowing down the potential alternatives to reduce inundation risk to the historic Village of Zoar.  As they have throughout the study process, the Army Corps is making sure to involve the community and other stakeholders, including the National Trust, as they consider the possible alternatives for Zoar levee. 

National Trust staff and other interested parties, including the Mayor, the Zoar Community Association, Ohio Historic Preservation Office, and Ohio Historical Society, met for 3 days last week to learn more about the potential options for repair of the levee and to provide input on the possible impacts those repairs could have on Zoar’s historic character.  Among the alternatives under consideration are a new series of relief wells to collect water and send it to the pump station, and something called a filter blanket, which is basically a blanket of earth designed to add weight to the levee and relieve seepage.  We visited the recently-rehabbed levee in nearby Magnolia to see an example of both the relief wells (pictured), and the filter blanket (hard to photograph under all that snow!).  

The Dam Safety Modification Study for Zoar levee is due to be completed in just under 11 months, so the Army Corps has their work cut out for them.  The National Trust will continue to play an active role in the consideration of alternatives and the identification of possible impacts and mitigation measures.  We all want to see the best solution for the Village of Zoar that will reduce the risk of inundation while preserving this unique community’s historic character.  Stay tuned for more updates on the potential alternatives as the study continues!

Please check back often for additional updates on the Village of Zoar. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.


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Jill Devine Coverdale on August 07, 2013
I grew up in Zoar Village. It was a wonderful place to grow up!! I always felt safe in our small community and love that I can now take my children there to see everything and share my stories of when I was a kid growing up there. The history of the town is very educational and has been lovingly taken care of all of these years. It is still the home of my parents, my sister and her family and I still call it home. I love that my kids get to sled ride on the same levee and I did as a kid and play at the playground at the school house and even go down that scary sliding board just as I did so long ago. I tell them about the big barn as it was still there was I was a kid and about all the things they brought out of it when it had to be taken down. Also how there use to be an ice cream parlor at the side of the hotel and what the hotel looked like inside when it was a restaurant. Please protect these precious memories and the town I grew up in as I am sure a lot of us have these same memories.
David McCann on February 28, 2013
Walking back in history - and a determined group of immigrants from Nassau - Province of Baden Wurttemberg Germany - my grandfather and grandmother (2X) coming to Zoar in 1854 - who believed in religious freedom having been persecuted by the Lutheran Church in the province. Both Johann Heinrich Pfeiffer and his wife Margaret Lauchs Pfeiffer would join the community and later realize the reward of their labors - later moving to Canal Dover and buying a farm. Their son - my great grandfather - John W. Pfeiffer - because of the hard work of his parents was able to attend the Hopedale Normal College where he would become a teacher coming, later, back to Tuscarawas County and commit his life to education. Without Zoar - without their being respect for religious freedom - there would be no story to tell. "Give me your tired... your poor... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." So in saving Zoar - you are saving a light house - a beacon - a center of freedom for religious and economic freedom!
Diane Saxton on October 14, 2012
My daughter and I can mark our "great memories" timeline with visits to Zoar Village over the span of 15 years as she grew up. We've stayed in the bed and breakfasts there, gone to Harvest Festivals in August, and Christmas in Zoar celebrations. We've gone together to workshops at The Stamp Pad and The Zoar Schoolhouse, met other wonderful Zoarites at the Tavern and even attended the Civil War Reenactments. My daughter now is almost 40 and I am 70 and we will always treasure the village that helped us bond together. She is anxious to instill a love of history in her kids as I did in mine all those years ago. Please do not destory this little Tuscarawas JEWEL for future generations. Please find a solution to the Zoar Levee.
Leslie Graham on August 26, 2012
I love Zoar. What a fabulous treasure. The community garden is incredible and the buildings irreplaceable. Please help save Zoar. And if you are ever near Akron_canton take a drive to Zoar. You will be amazed. You don't have to go to Virginia or New England to go back 200 years. Check out Hudson while you are there. Settled in 1799 as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve...another treasure that always needs protecting.
J.S. on June 06, 2012
Visiting Zoar is like stepping back in time. Walking through the garden, visiting the restored houses and shops, learning about the community's fascinating history, you really begin to understand what life was like for the town's earliest settlers. Zoar must be saved so it can continue to tell its remarkable story.
Frank Quinn on June 06, 2012
It's amazing to think that places as special as Zoar, nearly 200 years old, still exist here in Ohio. When we work to preserve Zoar, we know we are honoring our predecessors' best efforts. We today have the honor and responsibility of stewarding this resource and maintaining the tangible link from past to future that we as preservationists strive toward.

Campaign Overview

Funds Secured:
$ 66,000
Fundraising Goal: $ 169,000
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