In 1892, Henry Schumacher purchased forty acres of land one mile east of the Village of Waunakee from the widow of Dr. Nathaniel Wheeler, the village’s first physician. Although Dr. Wheeler cultivated grapes and an orchard, it was Henry who turned the land into a working farm that remained in the Schumacher family for nearly 100-years.
In 1908, Henry married Eveline Busby and in 1910 Marcella Philomene Schumacher, their only child, was born. Although all farming activity had ceased shortly after the death of her father in 1958, Marcella wanted to create a living history museum that documented and represented farm life during the early 20th century. As a teacher working in the Waunakee School District for many years, Marcella wanted to leave an educational legacy. In 1978, Marcella donated the property to the Dane County Parks Commission and Schumacher Farm Park was born.
To carry out her dream of using her father’s farmstead as a conservancy and park, Marcella formed a non-profit organization, The Friends of Schumacher Farm, in 1986. Over the next several decades, Marcella mentored the organization while living in her family home until she passed away at the age of 83. At her death, she left the Marcella Schumacher Pendall Trust to provide for the basic financial needs of the Friends of Schumacher Farm.
The Friends assumed responsibility for the restoration of the farm house to the 1930s era and have established an educational program that represents the life of the area’s early settlers. The successful partnership among the Friends of Schumacher Farm, its many volunteers, the Dane County Parks Commission and the surrounding communities has made Schumacher Farm Park what it is today.
In 2007, the red barn currently located on the east side of the farm was constructed to house the future Center for Rural History. The Center will serve as a true visitor’s center providing much needed museum space to display artifacts and a common area for hosting large group gatherings and indoor educational programs. In addition, the Friends of Schumacher Farm are working to construct a Farm Machinery Museum to house, repair, and restore the existing collection of early 1900s farm machinery and tools. Both the Farm Machinery Museum and Center for Rural History are essential to the Friends in continuing their efforts to provide farming heritage programs and in carrying out Marcella’s educational legacy.