Mooney opening the 1936 museum.

Mooney opening the 1936 museum.

The Museum

Ernest "Mooney" Warther, born on October 30th, 1885 would become a legend, a small-town icon, and the World's Master Carver. The Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens are built around the original location of Ernest and Frieda's home, his original workshop, and the first museum which opened on May 10th, 1936 in their backyard. The Ernest Warther Museum is owned and operated by third and fourth generation family members whose mission is to share, educate, and delight visitors with the works compiled and created by both Ernest and Frieda Warther to invoke passion, determination, and admiration for the beauty of their art.

Ernest "Mooney" Warther

Ernest "Mooney" Warther was born on October 30th, 1885 in an old, one room school house in Dover, Ohio. The youngest of five children, Ernest learned at a young age the value of hard work. After his father passed away when Ernest was just three years old, times were tough for the Warther family, with young mother Anna, five children, twenty cents, and a cow. Upon turning five, Ernest began his first job as the local cow herder, taking cows to pasture for a penny a piece and earning him the nickname that would stay for the rest of his life, "Mooney." One fateful day, taking the cows out, Mooney found a rusty pocketknife in the dirt. This old knife would ultimately change the course of Mooney's life forever as the young boy began whittling sticks, fence-posts, and anything else. Because times were tough and money was short, Mooney would only finish the second grade and would eventually lie about his age at 14 to work at the American Sheet and Tin Company which was the local steel mill. Falling in love with the railroad and steam engines as a teenager, Mooney found his focus for carving, which became his hobby. When he was not working at the mill, he was carving. If he was not carving he was with his wife Frieda, his own five children, and the neighborhood clan. Mooney's journey is one that is remarkable, with one man creating sixty-four scaled and working representations of steam history. His carvings were created between 1905 and 1971, between the ages of 20 and 86. Beyond the carvings, Mooney Warther was discovered by the New York Central Railroad, traveled with his carvings, raised a family, opened his own museum, and dedicated his life to the town of Dover, Ohio and educating all people through his works. He was a character, smart as a whip, always with a story to tell, and often told the story while carving a pair of his signature pliers. People from all over the world came to Dover to see the man with the wild hair, the booming voice, and the genius mind who carved so perfectly, you had to see it to believe it.