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Trip Planner:   USA  /  Ohio  /  Dover  /  Warther Museum

Warther Museum, Dover

4.8
#1 of 11 in Things to do in Dover
Must see · Specialty Museum · Museum
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Turn of the century Dover, Ohio was like most small towns of the day. Residents worked hard, believed in progress, took pride in their community and sat down together to enjoy the evening meal.

Such was the case for one of Dover’s most famous residents, Ernest “Mooney” Warther. Born in 1885 to Swiss immigrants, Mooney, as he was known to all, would leave a mark in the community that is still visible to this day.

Mooney found his way out of the steel mills where he worked and into his workshop where he began making knives in order to make carvings of ebony, ivory, and walnut, a hobby that would later make him a recognizable figure across the nation.

With only a second grade education, Mooney would become a master carver that can only be explained through his genius. Noted professors from Case Western Reserve explained the degree of skill in the creation of the pliers tree, one of Mooney’s more unique carvings, would require an advanced degree in mathematics. His talent lives on in members of his family and his story is told in a family-friendly museum that celebrates the life of this remarkable man.

Warther Museum is like no other museum in the world. Situated on eight acres in the tree-lined residential neighborhood where Mooney once lived, the Swiss chalet-styled Warther Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the life of Mooney, his wife Frieda and their family.

Still operated by the third and fourth generation of the Warther family, Warther Museum features Mooney’s home, restored to appear as it would when he and Frieda started their life together. Mooney’s original workshop, built in 1912, features his tools, an extensive collection of Native American arrowheads and the fireplace where he would forge the steel he used in the kitchen knives. In the museum are the priceless collection of 64 ebony, ivory, and walnut trains carved by Mooney at different stages of his life. Each carving is painstakingly accurate with moving parts that are remarkably to scale.

The truly unique button house is home to Frieda Warther’s collection of more than 73,000 buttons displayed on the walls and ceiling of the quaint structure located just outside the original Warther home on the edge of the garden.

Throughout every season of each year, the Swiss styled garden is meticulously maintained. It remains a dear reminder to the Warther family of their proud Swiss heritage.
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Warther Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
422 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • I didn't go through the museum but I went to the Gift shopping and the knife store. We ended buying some stuff. The staff could not have been friendlier. I was very happy. 
    I didn't go through the museum but I went to the Gift shopping and the knife store. We ended buying some stuff. The staff could not have been friendlier. I was very happy.  more »
  • You have never seen a museum like this. It is the life of boy who became a whittler (Moonie Warther) when he learned to carve a single piece working pliers who fell in love with steam engines and... 
    You have never seen a museum like this. It is the life of boy who became a whittler (Moonie Warther) when he learned to carve a single piece working pliers who fell in love with steam engines and...  more »
Google
  • Before coming here, I knew nothing about who Ernest “Mooney” Warther was. After leaving here, I was astonished at how a man with humble beginnings had combined the blue collar life with his huge imagination and made history. This museum should do something to your soul. The handmade creations in all of their detail by Warther are all stunning. To come here and see his works makes a for a nice visit. To leave here and be inspired to make the most of what God gave us makes it WORTH a visit. Pictures don’t do justice. Come check it out!
  • An absolute gem of a place that blew all of us away. We planned on stopping here on our way to tour some local wineries and wanted to spend an hour or so while waiting for them all to open. We ended up spending a lot more than an hour as we were absolutely captivated by the meticulous creations of both "Mooney" Warther and his wife. What an amazing place! Ernest, worked in a local steel mill and then made knives. He then started carving scale steam locomotives using wood and bone and later ivory. The museum shows off his works. Anyone who has an appreciation for steam locomotives and their history will want to spend time here. Anyone who has an appreciation for craftsmanship will want to spend time here as well. And if the trains are not enough, the button work that his wife did is almost as amazing - but there are significantly less works on display. I frequently found myself with my mouth literally hanging open as I realized the level of craftsmanship it took to make any of these models. Not only are they finely carved, but any piece that moved in real life, moves on the models. The museum guides tell you that Ernest invited railroad engineers to look over his completed models and tell him if they see any errors - and they could not find one thing out of place. The grounds are also nice to visit as well as the house that they lived in. I would recommend touring those before the actual museum as anything you do after the tour itself will feel like a letdown - and it's almost just as amazing.

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