Step back in time and explore what it was like in the 1800s in Arizona. The museum has over 90 acres of historical buildings, interesting artifacts, and historical furnishings to look at and explore. It is a museum the entire family would enjoy. Today, we have running water and air conditioning, but it must have been a challenge back then.
Some history first about the museum. A group concerned about the historical buildings that have been demolished in Arizona decided to form a foundation to save history. These founders include former Governor Paul Fannin and Senator Barry Goldwater. They purchased 90 acres in north Phoenix and created a museum to preserve and educate about the history of Arizona. In 2010 the land was purchased by the city of Phoenix, and the museum leased the land from them. The museum has ten original buildings and 15 reconstructed buildings that showcase the history of Arizona you can explore. It is exciting reading about each building because it gives an account of how the museum got ahold of the building.
At the main entrance is the gift shop where you buy tickets to enter the museum. With admission, they provided a map of the village you can use to plan your self-guided tour. There are concrete paths that wander through the buildings, and all you have to do is follow the path.
I spoke with an employee, and she said the pandemic has shut down many extra events that would run throughout the day. They would have gunfights and have people wandering around historical customs. Events are picking up because they were getting ready to host a wedding in the church later in the day. I am hoping the gunfights will return soon.
They rent out different museum areas for special events like the church. They also have a large building where you could host your large party, and it even has a dance floor (with an old tractor next to it). I didn’t see anything special going on, but it was still worth the trip because of all the history preserved in one place.
They work with community organizations that would like to help out around the museum. When we visited, a Boy Scout troop was working on the schoolhouse building for an Eagle Scout project. I also saw several plaques around the property that said they were built by the community.
There are ten original buildings on display at the museum and here are just two examples. The rest of them I will leave up to you to explore and experience.
This cabin is original and built-in 1878 and was the home to
Senator Henry Fountain Ashurst when he was a kid. The cabin was saved by the museum by lifting the cabin piece by piece from a box canyon at Ashurst Springs.
Parts of the complex include the ranch house, chicken coup, and root cellar that you can look at. The ranch house was built in 1870 and was moved to the museum from Gordon Canyon in Coconino Country. The information says this housed between 4 to 6 people. It isn’t very big so it must have been cosey for everyone.
The museum is an easy drive. It is in north Phoenix off I-17. All you have to do is take the Pioneer Road exit. They have a large parking lot and plenty of room if you have an RV.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family, you should head over to the Pioneer Living History Museum. It is an easy walk around the historical buildings of Arizona. Check their website for information on events that might be coming up.
Pioneer Living History Museum
3901 W. Pioneer Road
Phoenix, AZ 85086