The development of parishes in northern Estonia was given momentum due to their location on the coast and the road from Tallinn to Saint Petersburg. Buyer-ups took cattle fed on local distillery slops and other farm produce to the markets of the capital of the Russian Empire. The sea, in its turn, always provided opportunities to serve on ships, to see other lands and peoples. In the second half of the 19th century people started using these advantages to raise money for purchasing tenant farms as freeholds. By the end of the 19th century, almost half of farms in Northern Estonia had been purchased.
What strikes the eye when one looks at the fences of farm buildings and villages in Northern Estonia is how much limestone was used: the limestone in surface soil was widely available. The proximity of Northern Estonia and especially Kuusalu parish to Finland also influenced the appearance of some farm buildings there as well as the local language and culture.
The Northern Estonia part of the Estonian Open Air Museum displays Pulga tenant farm and Aare fisherman’s farm dating back to the second half of the 19th century. Härjapea farm is a specimen of the architecture, interior design and lifestyle of 1920s and 1930s. Close to the village community centre of the museum, there is Kahala watermill characteristic of Northern Estonia.