Experience area close-up: Animal Encounters

Animal Encounters opened at Conner Prairie in 2007. This area allows guests to get up-close with rare breeds and learn about the role these animals played in 19th-century Indiana. 

By Hannah Kiefer
For the next few weeks we’re taking a close-up look at an experience area that many of our guests know and love: Animal Encounters!

Conner Prairie has a history of agriculture. William Conner himself kept livestock and farmed the land near where Animal Encounters is today, and before Conner Prairie was a museum, we were a farm. Developed by Eli Lilly, Conner Prairie Farms began in 1934. The farm raised Percheron horses, Shorthorn cattle, Berkshire hogs, and Shropshire sheep. In the words of Lilly, “The quality of our livestock was second to none.” In 1964, Conner Prairie became a full-fledged museum.

Our Animal Encounters experience area opened in 2007 with the intent of helping to bridge the disconnect between people and agriculture that has developed in recent decades. Additionally, heritage breeds were selected to help support the goal of educating guests on what life was like in 19th-century Indiana. Continue reading

Experience area close-up: William Conner House

William Conner House at Conner Prairie was built in 1823. It has undergone several interior and exterior renovations to keep Conner’s history alive..

By Hannah Kiefer
Next up in our series on our outdoor experience areas, we’re taking a look at the area that gave Conner Prairie its name: William Conner House.

Prior to living in the structure, Conner and first wife Mekinges lived in a two-room cabin about a half-mile north of where William Conner House now stands. Mekinges was a Lenape Indian. When she moved west with her and Conner’s children in 1820 after the Treaty of St. Mary’s, Conner would marry second wife Elizabeth and she moved into the cabin with him.

Conner built his home in 1823. He was a wealthy man in the area thanks to his business in the fur trade. His house is one of central Indiana’s oldest brick homes. The bricks were fired in a kiln that previously existed on-site, in the field behind where Animal Encounters now stands. Continue reading

Interpreters, seamstresses create new dress for character by hand in 56 hours

Staff Report
To celebrate Mother’s Day, seven women teamed up to make an entire dress (center above) in a weekend, from start to finish. The project took about 56 hours and the dress was made for Conner Prairie’s Mrs. Campbell character, a resident of 1836 Prairietown.

The dress was sewn by hand on the museum’s grounds by seamstresses and interpreters Libby Anderson (from left), Jenny Sherrill, Rachel Poe, Trudy Timkovich, Mary Van Zanten and Chris Kincaid. Shiela Sims also helped create the dress.