In the 1930′s, philanthropist J. Robert Crouse Sr. had a vision – to create a better place to live by helping the rural community of Hartland benefit from the cultural, educational and wealth-generating opportunities generally available in industrialized cities. To that end, Crouse made possible the Hartland Area Project and under the motto, “Friendly Association for Community Service” set to work on fulfilling his grand idea.
The project was a success, and in fact, affected every aspect of life in Hartland. It created a welfare program that assisted families through the Depression and World War II and improved the health of the community through immunizations. The project consolidated one-room schools, and created a newspaper, library, recreational facility and music program. It helped to improve the agricultural products and created a new industry that complimented agriculture.
Many of the community-enriching amenities afforded by the Hartland Area remain staples of the community today such as the Hartland Music Hall, Cromaine Library, Waldenwoods, “Community Life” newspaper, and the Hartland Consolidated School District.
The unique feeling in Hartland today is the result of Crouse’s social experiment. He and his project sought to develop a better place to live and commune, and in so doing largely put the heart in Hartland.