It began out of a desire of two grandparents to teach their grandchildren how people used to live.
"Mom and Dad have always been into history and preserving things," said Deborah Landrum Upton about her parents, Tom and Anne Landrum. "It was their vision to teach the grandchildren how people lived, how they built their homes, one-room school houses – things they remembered from their childhood."
So during Christmas 2003, Tom Landrum took several of his grandsons to the woods to cut trees to begin work on a cabin – the first of what has evolved into a walking tour featuring more than 70 buildings and displays known as Landrum's Homestead and Village.
Located in Laurel, the village is a walk back in time – a recreation of a late 1800s settlement reminiscent of Southern days gone – nestled in a beautifully landscaped setting. Features include a Confederate soldier encampment, an Old West Shooting Gallery, exhibits, entertainment, nature trail wagon rides, gem mining, a Native American Village, a mystery house, The Maze, Smokehouse lunches, a picnic pavilion, a forestry museum, demonstrations on blacksmithing, butter churning, gristmill grinding cornmeal, cooking biscuits on a wood stove, steam engine and much more.
From one building, to a village
Construction of the village's first building began at a Christmas Open House for the family's business – Landrum's Country Homestead, which manufactures handcrafted pine furniture.
"It was just going to be something for our family," Upton said.
However, the project generated interested among others, particularly those who had attended the open house.
"Over the following months, those people came back (to the village) and said, 'I'm going out back to see what Tom's done lately ... see how the building's coming,'" she said.
Once completed, the building was filled with old family furniture and heirlooms. During the construction, the family decided to add a second .... then third building.
"Dad had some old blacksmithing tools from his father, so we decided to build a blacksmithing shop," Upton said. "And, we'd always wanted a little water mill/grist mill, so we built that."
And what homestead would be complete without a barn and farm animals? And, other additions – a windmill was restored, then a water well drilled.
"We never realized it would branch out into all of this," she said.
The homestead and village became an attraction, drawing visitors from all areas of the state.
"We started having people wanting to bring their grandchildren to show them this, how we used to live. Then schools wanted to come for field trips," Upton said.
That's when the Landrum's decided to open the family homestead to the public as a walking tour, with funds generated going toward new building projects.
An old cabin built during the Civil War that belonged to Mrs. Landrum's family was relocated to the homestead, as well as several other cabins. A chapel constructed on the site and has become a popular setting for weddings, and numerous events are held at the homestead and village.
"One thing just has led to another. But we've always kept what we wanted to do the same: making it family oriented," Upton said. "And it's an educational experience. Children come here who have never seen a chicken or who've never seen an old wash pot, a scrub board, hand-turned wringers – things that were very instrumental to our past."
Today, Landrum's Homestead and Village spans 20 acres, offering hours of education and fun for those who visit.
"Our mission is to increase the desire to learn, develop a sense of wonder, and intensify the appreciation of heritage," Upton said.