Video produced by MAP Video Productions.
About the Park
3606 Belshaw Road
Lowell, IN 46356
- Park open 7 a.m. to sunset year round
- Historic Buildings open seasonally
- Maintenance phone number: 219-696-0769
Directions to Buckley Homestead
Exit Interstate 65 at Route 2 in Lowell for about 4 miles to Hendricks Road. Travel south for 1/4 mile to the visitor center parking lot. The farmstead is located at the intersection of Belshaw and Hendricks Roads. Following the walking path through the orchard to the homestead.
- GPS: Buckley Homestead Visitor's Center - 41.283566,-87.377509
- Calument Astronomy Center (Conway Observatory and Northern Indiana Robotic Observatory NIRo): 41.268504,-87.375031
- Buckley Homestead Equestrian Trail (PDF)
- Buckley Homestead Shelters (PDF)
- Buckley Homestead Walking Trails (PDF)
- Calumet Astronomy Center at Buckley Homestead (PDF)
- Map of Buckley Homestead Living History Farm and Calumet Astronomy Center and Conway Observatory (JPG)
- Map of Buckley Homestead Walking Trail Map (JPG)
Welcome to Buckley Homestead
The historic traditions, culture and heritage of farming life during the 19th and early 20th centuries are re-created on this living history farm, where visitors learn about our local history or reminisce about their own childhood memories.
When Dennis and Catherine Buckley first settled in Northwest Indiana in 1849 they would never have imagined that their farmstead would one day be of interest to visitors one hundred and fifty plus years into the future. The Buckley’s were immigrants who fled Ireland during the Potato Famine with their four children (William - 19, John - 18, Julia - 13, and Patrick - 12; they had also lost one child at sea on the way). Upon their arrival, they headed to Northwest Indiana to buy a farm near their cousins, the Driscolls, who had arrived from the same county in Ireland sometime before. The Buckleys bought 80 acres, reportedly for 50 cents per acre, from soldiers who had received the land as payment for services during the war. They immediately built a log cabin and began to farm. Dennis died within three years, leaving Catherine to raise her three sons and one daughter.
William, the oldest, inherited the land and took over the farm. He built the front part of the current white “I” house in 1853. Prior to retiring from farming in 1897 and moving into Lowell, he farmed in partnership with his brothers, John and Patrick. Buckley Homestead passed through four generations. At one time the operation concentrated on raising Holstein cows, milking them by hand and selling the milk in Chicago. The family developed their land into a 150-head dairy farm that operated through the early 1900s.
In 1977, part of the homestead was donated by Rose Buckley Pearce, great granddaughter of Dennis and Catherine, to the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department so that park visitors could experience the sights, sounds, and smells of early farm life through a living history outdoor museum. Later, upon her passing, Mrs. Pearce’s estate donated the remaining acres to the park department and to the residents of and visitors to Lake County.
We Hope You Enjoy Your Tour...
Upon arrival to the park you’ll notice the Visitor Center, located next to the parking area on Hendricks Road. It includes restroom facilities, drinking fountain, information kiosk, and a small gift shop which is open weekend afternoons in September and October. Take the path from the Visitor Center past the herb garden and through the orchard to the Buckley family farm. If the buildings are closed when you visit feel free to peek in the windows. Better yet, come back when the buildings are open. Be sure to read the interpretive signs at each building.
Visitors arrive first at the Carriage House. The garage for storing a carriage was in the center section. The west side (nearest the house) has an underground cistern to hold water and served as a cool place to store foods. The Buckleys also did laundry in there. The east side (nearest the orchard) served as a chicken coop. You can see a small door for chickens on the side.
Main House Museum
Did you realize that many farms were divided by a roadway? The side of the road with the house was considered where women’s work was done - housework, gardening, and care of the chickens. On the farm side, tasks fell to the men folk. The park department is fortunate in that the Buckley Home remained in the family until it was donated to Lake County. Nearly all the furnishings were original to family members.
Off to School
You’ll find the path to the one-room school house behind the Hired Hand’s House. Look for horses and cows in the pasture along the way but stay on the trail, as you may encounter poison ivy and wild things if you wander too far. The Buckley School is a replica of the original one-room school that was open from the middle 1800s until the 1920s. It sits on the original foundation site. The outhouses and water pump are safe for public use. Be sure that children don’t place their hands too high on the handle when pumping water - fingers may get pinched
Follow the path along the fence row from the school to the pioneer farm – a log house from the mid-1800s shows how early pioneers lived in northern Indiana. Check to see if the Native American Woodland Indian Camp is open.
From the pioneer farm follow the path down the hill and along the stream. Turn left at the first opportunity to cross the scenic footbridge over the meandering creek. This will take you back to the 1916 barn, granary, milk house, hog barn, and hired hands house.
The focal point of the barnyard is the Bank Barn, so named because it is built into the side of the hill (called a bank). The upper part was used only for storing hay and some grain for feeding the animals. Although we have farm equipment and machinery in here today, it would have been completely filled with hay. Back in 1916, when this barn was built, hay was not baled; it was stored loose. The barn is tall (the gambrel roof structure with trusses along the sides allows it to be built higher than a normal style) so they could fill it really high with hay. If you look up to the very top ridge, you can see a track. Hay forks were hooked to it by long ropes. The men would drive a wagon filled with hay into the barn, and bring these forks down and catch loads of hay and carry it to the top of the pile. Horses would be hooked up to the ropes that raised and lowered the hay forks. When they pulled, the hay went up. Children had the job of standing on top of the hay in the barn, pitching the hay down to the sides, because the hay fork would always dump it in the middle. It was dangerous work.
Check the calendar for special events and activities throughout the year. There is an admission fee charged on the weekends September through October when the main house museum and other historic buildings are open weekends in September and October from noon until 4 p.m. and admission for special events.
Call 219-769-7275 or Buckley Homestead directly at 219-696-0769.
Other Great Features of Buckley Homestead
- 1750s era Native American Village
- 1850s pioneer farmstead
- 1900s one room schoolhouse
- 1916 barnyard and farm animals
- Barbeque grills at shelters
- Cross country trails (no rentals)
- Gift shop (September & October weekends)
- Guided group tours (reservations)
- Hayrides (horse drawn)
- Hayrides (tractor driven)
- Hiking trails
- Historical buildings (open seasonally)
- Interpretive staff
- Main house museum
- Open play fields
- Picnic shelters
- Picnic tables
- Program fee (special activities)
- Special events
- Toilets ("old-fashioned non-flushable")
- Toilets (flush at the Visitor Center)