Sheila Stogsdill

Special to News-Record

The quaint village started in 1968 with a marble statue of Christ overlooking Grand Lake.

Now, Har-Ber Village has evolved into one of the country's largest antique museums and state's popular attractions.

Despite its popularity and unique offerings, the recession is causing the museum to struggle, its executive director, Jan Norman, said.

The founders, Harvey and Bernice Jones, left a foundation and financial plan to support the museum, but it has not been enough to cover the losses. The museum lost $3 million last year, Norman said.

Har-Ber Village has not laid off employees, but it also is not replacing those who leave, she said. In addition, it will not have any exhibits or special events for the year.

The museum received the Oklahoma's Most Outstanding Tourism Attraction award in 2000. It marked its 40th anniversary last year with a new Visitor Center and Gallery.

Har-Ber Village was built by the Joneses as a gift to the public. Its name comes from their first names.

It consists of 112 rustic cabins filled with antiques and artifacts dating from the late 1800s to early 1900s. It is believed that the couple acquired the items at garage sales and auctions, which Harvey Jones loved to frequent.

The village gets more than 500,000 visitors a year from across the U.S. and foreign countries.

Dogwood and redbud trees serve as a backdrop to the village. Visitors often sit on benches and in gazebos to watch deer grazing in nearby wooded areas or watch the sun set over Grand Lake.

Each log cabin is built from materials dating to the 19th and 20th centuries and holds collections of china, household equipment, furnishings, dolls, Civil War items, American Indian artifacts and glassware. Displays of antique farm implements and a waterwheel cover the grounds.

The first display in the village was the Little Church, which was built from bricks from the Van Winkle house at War Eagle, Ark. The church's pulpit, which dates to about 1850, came from the Zion Methodist Church.

The church features a landscaped lawn with seasonal flowers. It has been a popular site for weddings.

After the Little Church was built, a log house, school and a general store were added.

Other buildings in the village include a dentist office, jail, post office, bank, beauty shop, barbershop, stagecoach inn and a mercantile exchange, which is stocked with merchandise. Cabins are furnished with era settings including beds with feather pillows and quilts, and iron cook stoves with pots and pans.

To honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Har-Ber Village plans to put on a Civil War exhibit in 2011.