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

Donate to our campaign to save the Village of Zoar.

Tell us why the Village of Zoar matters to you.

Posted on February 05, 2015

Forum Journal Winter 2015Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerJsandy headshot

The Village of Zoar is featured in the National Trust’s winter volume of Forum Journal, released today.  The article tells the story of the National Trust’s involvement in the effort to save Zoar from inundation or relocation. 

The great partnership between the Trust and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is highlighted as an example for other communities that may be working with this federal agency on issues impacting historic resources. 

If you are a National Trust Forum Member, you can check out the article online.  And if you are not a Forum member – join today!

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 03, 2015

Zoar winterWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerJsandy headshot

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared their plan for Village of Zoar’s levee with local residents last week, and the proposal was warmly received.  Check out the news coverage in the Columbus Dispatch.  The Mayor and local residents are hopeful that the proposed plan will fix the issues with Zoar levee with minimal impact on the historic village.

The next step in the process is final approval of the Final Dam Safety Modification Report, which should happen this summer.  The overall project will cost $11.5 million dollars, but construction won’t begin until funds are secured in the Army Corps budget. 

Meanwhile, the National Trust continues work on a Programmatic Agreement with the Army Corps, State Historic Preservation Office, and other consulting parties, which will guide implementation of the project, ensuring that the Corps will consider the effects of their work on Zoar’s historic character and mitigate any negative impacts.  

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 05, 2015

Zoar DSMR/EAWritten by Jennifer Sandy, Project ManagerJSandy headshot

It’s the report we’ve all been waiting for – the culmination of several years of study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with critical input from the Village of Zoar, the National Trust, the State Historic Preservation Office, and other stakeholders.  Now the public has a chance to review and comment on the report, known as a Draft Dam Safety Modification Report and Draft Environmental Assessment (whew!).  Public comment will be accepted until January 27, and comments can be sent to

To those of us that have been following this process closely, there are no surprises in the report (which is a good thing).  The alternative that is still being proposed by the Army Corps is essentially a deep “internal erosion interception trench” to stop water from infiltrating backwards through the levee, with a “weighted filter berm” on top—basically just a mound of fill that would be graded and covered with grass to blend in with the existing levee.   This is the least costly option and will not require demolition of any structures.

After the public comment period has ended, the Corps will conduct a Type I Independent External Peer Review (IEPR) on the report.  This mandated review will be conducted by a panel of experts outside of the Corps, including a cultural resource panel member.  We are hopeful that the Dam Safety Modification Report and Environmental Assessment will be finalized this summer.

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 December 16, 2014

Written by Jennifer Sandy, Project Manager

Christmas in Zoar

Christmas in Zoar

Just in time for the holidays, enjoy these photos from Christmas in Zoar!  Courtesy of the Zoar Community Association.

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.

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