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The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Amana Heritage Society, the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) invite you to discover the Amana Colonies, a historic utopian society located in the rolling hills of Iowa's River Valley. The Amana Colonies were established shortly before the Civil War by a group of German-speaking European settlers who belonged to a religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration. Here they began a communal system of living divided into seven different villages, and encompassing over 20,000 acres of land. This latest National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary explores 31 historic places that illustrate the fascinating history of one of the longest lasting communal societies in the world.
This itinerary highlights the landscapes and elegantly simple, distinctive architecture of communal Amana, a period which lasted from 1855 to 1932. Amana villages originally consisted of 40 to 100 buildings. Visitors can stroll through Amana, the largest of the seven villages, and visit the Amana Woolen Mill and Amana Furniture Shop, originally a calico mill--two very important industries for the colonies. After learning more about this settlement's history and culture at the Museum of Amana History, visitors can enjoy a traditional German family-style meal at the Colony Inn Restaurant or the Ox Yoke Inn. Touring the other villages by car, visitors will pass through historic farmland and observe the imprint the colonists made on their landscape at places such as the Mill Race, a canal dug to provide waterpower for the mills, the Lily Lake, and groves of trees called Schulwalds. Barns and agricultural buildings were clustered together at the edge of each village; examples of this can be seen in West Amana, South Amana , and High Amana. Each village contained numerous dwellings, such as those in Homestead. Groups of about 30-40 people ate their meals at one of several village kitchens, like one in Middle Amana that is now the Communal Kitchen Museum. Adjacent to this building are Hahn's Hearth Oven Bakery, one of the several village bakeries that supplied fresh bread to the kitchens daily, and the Coopershop Museum, an example of the many trade buildings that were vital to daily life in Amana. Every village also had a general store, such as those in High Amana and West Amana, and a school for children ages 7-14. But of course the focus of the colonists' lives was their religion, and a church was an essential element of each village where services were held 11 times a week. The Amana Colonies have long been a popular destination for tourists, who were interested in learning about communal life. Several of these historic hotels and other historic communal buildings continue to offer lodging today, including the Die Heimat Country Inn, Lower South Hotel, and the Baeckerei Bed and Breakfast.
The Amana Colonies itinerary offers numerous ways to discover the historic properties that played important roles in the way the community functioned. Each property features a brief description of the place's significance, color and historic photographs, and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page the visitor will also find a navigation bar containing links to four essays that explain more about Utopias in America, the Origins of the Colonies, Communal Amana, and Amana Colonies Today. These essays provide historical background, or "contexts," for many of the places included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit eastern Iowa in person.
Created through a partnership, the Amana Colonies itinerary is an example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to revitalize communities by promoting public awareness of history and encouraging tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions and Heritage Areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. In the Learn More section, the itineraries link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities.
The Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau is the seventh of more than 30 organizations working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online in the future. The National Register of Historic Places and the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of the historic places in the Amana Colonies. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page
Dear Internet Visitor:
Willkommen! We invite you to take an online tour of the unique and fascinating history of the Amana Colonies, a National Historic Landmark tucked in the rolling hills of eastern Iowa. "Gemütlichkeit" (German for warmth, cheer and friendliness) overflows in our quaint seven villages, founded nearly 150 years ago.
This virtual tour offers you a sampling of the rich heritage that abounds in the Amana Colonies. The churches, communal kitchens, historic hotels and other intriguing sites listed here are only a few of our more than 400 buildings which comprise the Amana Colonies National Historic Landmark.
Once you have experienced us online, come experience the Amana Colonies in person. We would be delighted to host you in our unique corner of the world.
"Wir wünschen Euch eine glückliche Reise" (We wish you a safe journey).
The Amana Colonies were one of many utopian colonies established on American soil during the nineteenth century. There were hundreds of communal utopian experiments in the early United States, and the Shakers alone founded some 20 settlements. While great differences existed between the various utopian communities or colonies, each society shared a common bond in a vision of communal living in a utopian society. The definition of a utopian colony, according to Robert V. Hine, author of California's Utopian Colonies, "consists of a group of people who are attempting to establish a new social pattern based upon a vision of the ideal society and who have withdrawn themselves from the community at large to embody that vision in experimental form." These colonies can, by definition, be composed of either religious or secular members, the former stressing (in the western tradition) a community life inspired by religion while the latter may express the idealism of a utilitarian creed expedient to establishing human happiness, with a belief in the cooperative way of life. The more familiar non-monastic religious communal movements typical in Western society have generally originated from a deliberate attempt among various Christian sects to revive the structure of the primitive Christian community of first-century Jerusalem, which "held all things in common" (Acts 2.44; 4.32). This essay explores the origins and development of the Utopian idea and its arrival in the United States before giving examples of nineteenth century utopian colonies and some generalizations on their ultimate demise. The Shaker, Rappite and Amana experiments, as well as the Oneida community and Brook Farm, find their origins in the European Protestant Reformation and the later Enlightenment.
Origins of the Utopian Idea: The western idea of utopia originates in the ancient world, where legends of an earthly paradise lost to history (e.g. Eden in the Old Testament, the mythical Golden Age of Greek mythology), combined with the human desire to create, or recreate, an ideal society, helped form the utopian idea. The Greek philosopher Plato (427?-347 BC) postulated a human utopian society in his Republic, where he imagined the ideal Greek city-state, with communal living among the ruling class, perhaps based on the model of the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta. Certainly the English statesman Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) had Plato's Republic in mind when he wrote the book Utopia (Greek ou, not + topos, a place) in 1516. Describing a perfect political and social system on an imaginary island, the term "Utopia" has since entered the English language meaning any place, state, or situation of ideal perfection. Both the desire for an Edenic Utopia and an attempt to start over in "unspoiled" America merged in the minds of several religious and secular European groups and societies.
The 19th century utopian sects can trace their roots back to the Protestant Reformation. Following the early Christian communities, communal living developed largely within a monastic context, which was created by Saint Benedict of Nursia (480?-543?AD), who founded the Benedictine order. During the Middle Ages a communal life was led by several lay religious groups such as the Beghards and Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit. In allowing the sexes to live in the same community these societies differed from the earlier Catholic and Orthodox monasteries. The Protestant Reformation, which originated with the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564), changed western European societal attitudes about the nature of religion and work. Luther broke with the medieval conception of labor, which involved a hierarchy of professions, by stressing that all work was of equal spiritual dignity. Calvin's doctrines stressed predestination, which stated that a person could not know for certain if they were among God's Elect or the damned. Outwardly a person's life and deeds, including hard work and success in worldly endeavors, was a sign of possible inclusion as one of the Elect. These theological ideals about work were stressed in the various American religious utopian societies. The Shakers, for example, believed in productive labor as a religious calling, and the Amana Inspirationists saw labor as productive and good, part of God's plan of contributing to the community.
In the wars and general disorder following the establishment of Protestant sects in northern Europe, many peasants joined Anabaptist and millenarianist groups, some of which, like the Hutterian Brethren, practiced communal ownership of property. To avoid persecution several of these groups immigrated to America, where the idea of communal living developed and expanded. The first significant group was the Ephrata Community (now a National Historic Landmark), established in 1732 in Pennsylvania. Much of this community was destroyed when Ephrata's members cared for the injured soldiers following the battle of Brandywine in 1777. Typhus set in, killing both soldiers and residents. By the end of the century the cloister's vitality was gone. It was not until the first half of the 19th century that a great expansion of communitarian experiments took place on American soil. Inexpensive and expansive land, unhampered by government regulations in a time when progress and optimism shaped people's beliefs, created a fertile milieu for the establishment of utopian societies. Europe, in the early 19th century, was emerging from a long history of religious and dynastic wars, and America, in contrast, became a location where people could start over, the "New Eden" which beaconed colonists across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals that affected every part of English America in the first half of the eighteenth century, prepared the American soil for numerous religious sects. In addition to the religious revivals, new ideas on government and man's role in society began with the Enlightenment, an 18th-century European philosophical movement characterized by rationalism and a strong skepticism and empiricism in social and political thought. These ideas found reception among the drafters of the American Constitution. Freedom of religion, guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, attracted European groups who were persecuted in their own countries. Arriving in America, some of these colonists hoped to form Utopian societies, self-containing religious or secular communities, agrarian and largely communal in nature, far removed from the perceived vices found in the overcrowded cities. While numerous religious and secular utopian experiments dotted the American landscape, the Shakers, Rappites, the Perfectionists of the Oneida Community, the experiment at Brook Farm and the Amana Colony of the Inspirationists were among the most famous. Some exploration of their beliefs and history presents an example of how these utopian colonies functioned.
The Shakers: Formally known as the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming, the Shakers developed their own religious expression which included communal living, productive labor, celibacy, pacifism, the equality of the sexes, and a ritual noted for its dancing and shaking. A significant portion of Shakerism was founded by (Mother) Ann Lee, in England in 1758. Ann Lee and some followers arrived in America in 1774. Ann Lee died in 1784, but Shaker colonies, spread to newer communities. Containing 6,000 members before the Civil War, these communities maintained economic autonomy while making items for outside commercial distribution. Intellectually, the Shakers were dissenters from the dominant values of American society and were associated with many of the reform movements of the 19th century, including feminism, pacifism and abolitionism: an Enfield Shaker's diary, for example, records the visits of fugitive slaves, including Sojourner Truth. Their work was eventually redirected from agricultural production to handicrafts, including the making of chairs and furniture. The Enfield Shakers Historic District, in Enfield, Connecticut, and the Hancock Shaker Village, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, stand as two noteworthy examples of Shaker communities. The community at Enfield, which began in the 1780's, peaked from 1830-1860. During 1860 there were 146 Shakers in Enfield, living in same-sex housing, working in its garden-seed industry. The Enfield Shakers Historic District, containing fifteen buildings, has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in reflecting the social values and communal lifestyle of the Shakers. The Hancock Shaker Village, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, was considered the center of Shaker authority in America from 1787 until 1947, and is today listed as a National Historic Landmark. Four other Shaker Village have also been designated as National Historic Landmarks: Shakertown at Pleasant Hill Historic District (Mercer County, Kentucky), Canterbury Shaker Village (Merrimack County, New Hampshire), Mount Lebanon Shaker Society (Columbia County, New York) and Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village (Androscoggin County, Maine).
Brook Farm: Some of the secular utopian communities in the United States found inspiration from ideas and philosophies originating in Europe. Transcendentalism began as a term developed by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) embodying those aspects of man's nature transcending, or independent of, experience. Taking root in America, Transcendentalism created a cultural renaissance in New England during 1830-45 and received its chief American expression in Ralph Waldo Emerson's individualistic doctrine of self-reliance. Some Transcendentalists decided to put their theories about "plain living" into practice. This experiment in communal living was established at West Roxbury, Massachusetts, on some 200 acres of land from 1841 to 1847. The Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education became better known than many other communal experiments due to the distinguished literary and intellectual figures associated with it. The Brook Farm Institute was organized and directed by George Ripley, a former Unitarian minister and later literary critic for the New York Tribune. Others connected with the project were Charles A. Dana and Nathaniel Hawthorne (both shareholders), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, William Henry Channing, John S. Dwight, and Sophia Dana Ripley, a woman of wide culture and academic experience. Brook Farm attracted not only intellectuals, but also carpenters, farmers, shoemakers and printers. The community provided to all members, their children and family dependents, housing, fuel, wages, clothing and food. There was an infant school, a primary school and college preparatory course covering six years. The 1846 fire disaster which burned the newly financed Phalanstery building, combined with further financial troubles, including Hawthorne's suit against Ripley and Dana to recover his investment in the project, brought about the end of the Brook Farm community the following year. The Brook Farm site is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark although only a small cottage on the property is definitely known to have been occupied by the Brook Farm community. Nathaniel Hawthorne used his experiences at Brook Farm as the basis of his novel The Blithedale Romance. The Brook Farm experiment began with about 15 members and never contained more than 120 persons at one time.
The Rappites: The Harmony Society, also called the Rappites, were similar to the Shakers in certain beliefs. Named after their founder, Johann Georg Rapp, the Rappites immigrated from Württemburg, Germany, to the United States in 1803, seeking religious freedom. Establishing a colony in Butler County, Pennsylvania, called Harmony, the Rappites held that the Bible was humanity's sole authority. They also advanced celibacy and lead a communal life without individual possessions, and believed that the harmony of male and female elements in humanity would be reestablished by their efforts. Under the guidance of Frederick Rapp, George Rapp's adopted son, the economy of Harmony grew from one of subsistence agriculture to gradual diversified manufacturing. By 1814 the Society boasted 700 members, a town of about 130 brick, frame, and log houses, and numerous factories and processing plants. Their manufactured products, particularly textiles and woolens, gained a widespread reputation for excellence, as did their wines and whisky. The Harmony Society soon outgrew its markets, and after selling all their holdings to a Mennonite group for $100,000 they moved to a new location on the Wabash River in Indiana. Here again they built a prosperous community, New Harmony (now a National Historic Landmark), only to sell it to Robert Owen, a social reformer from New Lanark, Scotland, and his financial partner, William Maclure, in 1825. The Harmonists next returned to Pennsylvania and built their final home at Economy (now called Old Economy and recognized as a National Historic Landmark), in Ambridge on the Ohio River. The Harmonists reached their peak of prosperity in 1866, but the practice of celibacy and several schisms thinned the Society's ranks, and the community was finally dissolved in 1905. The surviving buildings of the first settlement in Harmony, with their sturdy, simple brick dwellings, the Great House with its arched wine cellar, and the imposing cemetery and original town plan are today a National Historic Landmark named the Harmony Historic District.
The Oneida Community: The founder and leader of the communal Oneida Community, John Humphreys Noyes, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1811. Noyes joined the Andover Theological Seminary in November, 1831. Transferring to Yale Theological College at New Haven, he became involved with the nascent abolitionist movement. In 1833 he founded the New Haven Anti-Slavery society and the New Haven Free Church, where he preached his radical belief which laid great emphasis on the ideal of perfection being attainable in this life. His followers became known as Perfectionists. However, Noyer's belief in "complex marriage" alienated many of the townspeople in Putney, New York, where he was living, and he left in 1847. Perfectionists practicing "complex marriage" considered themselves married to the group, not a single partner. Noyer moved his community to the town of Oneida, in Madison County, New York. At Oneida, the group practiced "Bible Communism." The skills of the artisan members were channeled into broom manufacturing, shoe manufacturing, flour processing, lumber milling and trap manufacturing. The Perfectionists in Oneida held communal property, meals and arrangements for the rearing and education of children. They built the Oneida Community Mansion House, a rambling U-shaped, brick, Victorian building which began housing the community in the early 1850s. The Oneida Community Mansion House is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. In 1874 there were 270 members of the Oneida Community. Misunderstanding of the community, allied with traditional points of view, inspired a 1879 meeting of ministers in Syracuse, New York, to condemn the settlement. Eventual unrest hit Noyes' followers, and Noyes fled to Canada on June 29 1879. "Complex marriage" ended two days later. The experiment in their communal utopia ended in January of 1881 when the Oneida community was reconstituted as a joint stock corporation.
The Demise of the 19th Century Utopian Colonies: Numerous religious and social communal groups developed in the nineteenth century. By end of the century even Theosophical colonies, based off Madame Blavatasky's merging of eastern and western mysticism, had cropped up in such places as Point Loma and Temple Home, near San Diego, California. Other groups included the Zoarites in Ohio, the Moravians of North Carolina, and the followers of German-born Wilhelm Keil, a Methodist minister heavily influenced by the pietist movement, who founded colonies in Bethel, Missouri, and Aurora, Oregon. Yet of all these utopian groups only the Amana Inspirationists developed and built a network of seven villages set in an agricultural region (see essays on Amana History). They managed to survive by modifying their system into two distinct organizations, one secular and one spiritual. The Inspirationists of Amana founded their communities with an agricultural basis as did other communal groups in the United States. Both men and women labored, although in Amana women's work did not include trades and the ministry as it did in the Shaker communities.
While the 20th century witnessed further experiments in communal living, the great wave which founded the nineteenth century religious and secular utopian communities had begun to subside by the twentieth. Some of the 19th century groups were established and depended on the strength of their leaders, those which survived into the twentieth century had to change their way of life significantly, as traditional rural life changed due to the industrial, economic and scientific changes in the larger society. General causes relating to the demise of these utopian colonies have to be explained individually, as each Utopian community faced different circumstances. Overall, the conflict that many of these agrarian or small craft communities faced in an increasingly industrialized world may have contributed to their demise, as did external hostility manifested in the larger, surrounding society, often seen in inflammatory newspaper articles attacking the utopian experiments. Generally, most analysts of utopian experiments, from Charles Nordhoff to Arthur Bestor, Jr., have found that religious utopian colonies possessed a longer life then their secular counterparts.
The Amana Colony in Iowa was established by German-speaking European settlers who belonged to a religious group known as the Community of True Inspiration, which traces its origins to Himbach, Germany in 1714. Community founders J.F. Rock (1678-1749) and E.L. Gruber (1665-1728) were among many Europeans seeking a more meaningful religious experience than they felt the established churches provided. Like many others, Rock and Gruber maintained that the Lutheran Church had become bogged-down in intellectual debate and formalized worship and thus neglected the spiritual needs of the congregation. An increasing desire to return to the basics of Christianity gained popularity in the doctrines articulated by this movement, known as Pietism. For Pietists, religion was a personal experience with an emphasis on sincere humility and earnest study of the Bible. The Community of True Inspiration was one of several groups which emerged from Pietism.
Rock, a saddlemaker, and Gruber, a former Lutheran minister, believed that God still spoke through prophets as described in the Old Testament. The Community of True Inspiration was founded on this belief. The new prophets were called Werkzeuge, or instruments. The divine pronouncements through the Werkzeuge were recorded by scribes and printed in collected volumes.
The Inspirationist beliefs attracted many followers and congregations were established throughout Germany and surrounding regions. Because Inspirationists declined to perform military duty, take state-required oaths, or send their children to church-run schools, the congregations were often in conflict with church and governmental authorities. Many members of the Community of True Inspiration were punished with fines, imprisonment and public beatings. Nevertheless, the Inspirationist movement flourished through the mid-18th century. However, by 1750, there were no longer any Werkzeuge and both Rock and Gruber were dead. The movement declined and faded in the midst of European wars and economic depression.
War and famine, compounded by sweeping social and economic changes, devastated Germany in the early 1800s. Farmers and craftspeople in particular were affected by high rents, taxes and a new wave of industrialization. Many people, including a tailor named Michael Krausert, took comfort in religion. Krausert studied the words of J.F. Rock and received inspiration in 1817. This event revitalized the Inspirationist communities and attracted a new following. The Werkzeug Krausert was soon joined by two others, Barbara Heinemann and Christian Metz. Metz emerged as the guiding force of the community during its crucial years of growth and relocation to America.
During the 1820s and 1830s, Metz consolidated the community in the relatively liberal province of Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany. Congregations from Germany, Switzerland and Alsace moved to join the new communities in Hesse. The community leased large estates and castles within a few miles of each other. Both rich and poor lived together and shared in the social and economic life of the group. Although not communal, this arrangement helped to predispose the Inspirationists to the formal communal system which would be established in America and Amana.
THE MOVE TO AMERICA
In September of 1842 a committee led by Christian Metz traveled to America in search of land on which to relocate the Community of True Inspiration. They purchased a 5,000-acre site in western New York, near Buffalo, and by the end of 1843 nearly 350 Inspirationists had immigrated to the new settlement, which they named "Ebenezer," meaning "hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
From the start, in order to facilitate all members of the community to come to America and live together, all property in Ebenezer was held in common. The initial plan was that after some time the land would be divided among the people according to their contribution of money and labor. However, leaders saw that the disparity in wealth, skills and age would make it difficult for all to purchase a portion of land--the community would fall apart as a result. Therefore in 1846 a constitution was adopted which established a permanent communal system. Any debate on this was resolved when Metz spoke a divine pronouncement endorsing the communal system.
Ebenezer flourished. By 1854 the population reached 1,200 people. Six villages were established, each with mills, shops, homes, communal kitchens, schools and churches. To accommodate this growth, additional land had been purchased, but more was needed. However, the booming growth of nearby Buffalo put land prices at a premium. Furthermore, the community leaders perceived a threat from the economic development around them. It was felt that capitalist and worldly influences were bringing about a growing interest in materialism and threatened the spiritual focus of the Inspirationist community. The leadership decided it was time to move the community again--this time to the unsettled west.
After investigating sites in Kansas and Iowa, the True Inspirationists selected a location along the Iowa River valley about 20 miles west of Iowa City, Iowa for the relocation of their community. This site offered extensive timberland, quarries for limestone and sandstone and long stretches of prairie filled with rich, black soil. Construction of the first village began in the summer of 1855 and the new settlement was named "Amana," meaning "believe faithfully." Community members moved to Amana over the next ten years as they gradually sold parcels of the Ebenezer property. A new constitution was adopted as the Community of True Inspiration took on the legal identity of the Amana Society. This new constitution essentially retained the communal system which had been developed in Ebenezer.
All members of the community shared in its economic success. The community provided each family with a home and all necessities of life. No one received a cash income. Rather, everyone was given an annual purchase allowance at the general store where goods were priced at cost. Medical care was provided free by the community. In return, each person was expected to work and was assigned a job by the community Elders based on the needs of the community as well as the talents of the individual. Nearly all women, starting at about age 14, worked in the communal kitchens and gardens. Women also tended to laundry, sewing and knitting and a few worked at the woolen mills. Men's jobs were far more varied. Young men might learn to work in one of the many craft shops, in the mills, or on the farms. Some men were sent outside the community to be educated as doctors or pharmacists.
By the 1860s the Amana Colony, as it came to be known, consisted of over 20,000 acres of land on which seven villages had been established. The villages were spaced just a few miles apart, roughly in the shape of a rectangle, and were named according to their location: West Amana, South Amana, High Amana, East Amana and Middle Amana, in addition to the original village of Amana. The town of Homestead, little more than a few buildings, was purchased by the Inspirationists so that they could have a depot on the new railroad line.
Amana villages each consisted of 40 to 100 buildings. The barns and agricultural buildings were always clustered at the village edge. Orchards, vineyards and gardens encircled the villages. Typical houses were rectangular two-story buildings of wood post-and-beam construction, brick, or sandstone. Each village had its own church, school, bakery, dairy, wine cellar, craft shops and general store. There were also a number of communal kitchens in each village where groups of about 30-40 people ate their meals.
Although all Amana villages are similar, each has its distinctive aspects. The original village of Amana, for example, is reminiscent of a German town with its meandering main street and side streets. On the other hand, the last village built--Middle Amana--displays a very American square block layout. South Amana is known for its predominance of brick construction--boasting even a brick granary and chicken house; in West Amana and High Amana sandstone buildings prevail. Tiny East Amana was not much more than an agricultural outpost, while Amana hummed with industry. The railroads' influence on the villages is evident in Homestead's single street and the bipartite nature of (upper and lower) South Amana.
The Amana settlement pattern of seven villages allowed the Inspirationists to easily access all their farm land (albeit at the cost of inefficiencies due to the need for a multiplicity of machinery and craft shops). Just as importantly it avoided a large urban setting which they felt encouraged immorality. Still, the network of small villages maintained an overall unity and kept everyone close to the spiritual leadership.
The Inspirationists established mills and shops according to their old-world skills. Amana's woolen and calico factories were among the first in Iowa and quickly gained a national reputation for superior quality goods. The Inspirationists did not avoid the use of new technologies and in fact are known to have contributed innovations of their own to the textile industry. By 1908, the two woolen mills (in Amana and Middle Amana) were producing about a half-million yards of fabric a year and the calico factory printed 4,500 yards of its famous cloth each day. Two flour mills (in West Amana and Amana) processed the community's own small grains as well as those of neighboring farmers. Crops of potatoes and onions were shipped to Midwest markets. Profits from the mills and farms was used to purchase goods from outside the community.
Of course, for the Inspirationists all this economic activity was subordinate to their religious purpose, to live a godly and pious life. To assist them in this, church services were held 11 times a week: every evening, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and Sunday afternoon. The Community also observed Easter, Christmas and other Christian holidays. In addition, the Inspirationists in Amana held several special services during the year. Of these, the annual renewal of the covenant between each member and the community, and Liebesmahl (Holy Communion) were the most important. Liebesmahl was actually held at times determined through inspiration until the death of Metz in 1867 and thereafter usually every other year. An Unterredung or yearly spiritual examination was held over several months with the Elders visiting each village in turn. Each member of the community came before the Elders and was questioned regarding his/her spiritual condition and admonished to lead a more pious life.
The church Elders, always men, comprised the leadership in the community. During the time of the Werkzeuge, Elders were chosen through inspiration. The Elders conducted the church services in each village. Some Elders were chosen as Trustees who managed the economic aspects and daily life of the villages. Up to this level each village functioned independently. Collectively, the villages were governed by a Board of Trustees, 13 Elders elected by the adult members of the community. This board directed the overall affairs of the community. Following the death of Barbara Heinemann Landmann, the last Werkzeug, in 1883, the elders and Trustees functioned for nearly 50 years without the support of divine authority. They showed a remarkable degree of flexibility to allow communal Amana to become one of America's longest-lived communal societies.
At the turn of the 21st century, the Community of True Inspiration is approaching its 300th year of existence although the Amana of today differs from that of a century before. By the 1930s, the communal system in Amana had generated stresses which it could not resolve. Many community members found the rules associated with communal living to be petty and overly restrictive. Regulations governed most aspects of daily life including dining, dress and leisure activities. Many young people wanted to be free to play baseball, to own musical instruments or to bob their hair in the new style. Families wanted to eat together at home rather than in the communal kitchen dining rooms. Although members received an annual spending allowance, many people felt theirs was inadequate and were frustrated by their inability to enjoy more material goods. Increasingly the elders were unable to enforce the rules.
In 1931, the community found itself in a crisis. In addition to the social strains of communal living, the community had suffered several economic setbacks in the previous decade. The Amana Society had lost an important source of revenue when its calico print works closed after World War I. A fire in 1923 extensively damaged the woolen mill and completely destroyed the Amana flour mill. And the national economic depression had shrunk the market for the Society's agricultural products.
The Elders presented the membership of the community with a choice: either they could return to a more austere and disciplined life or they could abandon the communal system. Significantly, dissolution of the church was not considered as an alternative. But most members also recognized that their community had changed and that they were probably incapable of returning to the strict life of early communalism. Many people no longer equated their faith with the social mores dictated by the Community. Furthermore, many members felt that communalism itself was no longer a necessary tenet of faith of the church. On June 1st, 1932, the members elected to retain the traditional church as it was, and to create a joint-stock company (Amana Society, Inc.) for the business enterprises to be operated for profit by a Board of Directors. This separation of the church from the economic functions of the community--the abandonment of communalism--is referred to by Amana residents still today as "the Great Change."
Today, the Amana Society, Inc., corporate heir to the land and economic assets of communal Amana, continues to own and manage some 26,000 acres of farm, pasture and forest land. Agriculture remains an important economic base today just as it was in communal times. Because the land was not divided up with the end of communalism the landscape of Amana still reflects its communal heritage. In addition, over 450 communal-era buildings stand in the seven villages--vivid reminders of the past.
The most widely known business that emerged from the Amana Society is Amana Refrigeration, Inc. This national leader in the production of refrigerators was founded by an Amana native, George C. Foerstner at the time of the Great Change. The first beverage cooler, designed for a businessman in nearby Iowa City in 1934, was built by skilled craftsmen at the Middle Amana woolen mill. In the decades that followed, the mill became the site of this large, now private, plant producing refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and in 1965 introduced a new product--the Amana Radarange Microwave Oven. Today, the 19th-century woolen mill smoke stack still rises over the modern plant.
The Amana Church continues to be a vital part of the Amana community. A visitor to Amana today would do well to visit an Inspirationist cemetery. Surrounded by pine trees to symbolize eternal life, the cemeteries continue to express the Inspirationist ethos of equality, humility and simplicity. As they have been for over 140 years, members are buried in order of death with plain, uniform headstones. Like the cemeteries, the Amana churches are much as they were when built 125 years ago. The building exteriors are unpretentious; no steeple or colored-glass windows declare that the edifice is a house of God. Inside, the unfinished wood floors, plain pine benches and unadorned walls echo the tradition of humility and piety. Men still enter and sit on one side of a central aisle; women on the other. Worshippers come early for quiet contemplation. English language services were introduced in 1960, but in both German and English services the order of worship has changed little over the years: a reading from Scripture; a reading from a testimony from Rock, Metz or Landmann; hymns that would be recognized by a congregation of a century earlier.
Today, heritage tourism has become important to the economy of the Amana area. Historic preservation efforts by several local nonprofit organizations, as well as the Amana Society, Inc. in conjunction with land-use and historic preservation ordinances attempt to preserve the natural and built environment of Amana.
The most common building type found in the Amana Colonies, the dwellings reflect the simple lives of their residents. Several original dwellings, mostly brick, remain in Homestead today. Amana Colony houses were typically rectangular, one-and-a-half-story buildings built with the most plentiful material available at the time of construction. Wood posts and beams, brick, or sandstone were the materials of choice. Hewn oak beams from local forests were utilized. Connections were made using mortise and tenon joints. The carpenters of the Amana Colony used a technique known as nogging to insulate their buildings. This technique consists of stacking unfired bricks, without mortar, between wall studs. Straw was used for insulation between floors and around window openings. The exterior of these buildings demonstrate a distinctive local style, each dwelling was built with a gable roof and nine-over-six windows. The only applied details were panel doors, featuring an locally manufactured metal lock, and a return gable.
The Inspirationist's style of simplicity is carried throughout the interior of the dwellings. The typical floorplan for an Amana Colony dwelling is a central hall with two-room suites on each side. First and second floors were laid out in the same manner. Each dwelling included bedrooms and living spaces, as well as a woodshed, latrine and washhouse that could be attached to the rear of the dwelling or housed in a separate building. The interior walls and ceilings were covered in plaster. Locally milled oak was used in creating deep-set windows and doors. White pine plank flooring covered the floors. On the walls, only religious artwork was allowed. Crafts of the colony, such as calico prints and wool rugs were another source of decoration. Other interior decor consisted of potted plants, embroidered works, crystal and glassware. The individual families owned these items, along with furniture and other household goods.
Like many Amana Colony buildings, trellises (simple wooden latticework) were attached to dwellings as vine support for grapes. Trellises usually extended from the ground to the first floor windows and protected the mortar of brick and stone houses from cracking caused by intruding vines and allowed moisture to evaporate from the building surface. Grape varieties included blue Concord, red Catawba, and white Niagara. The village Weinmeister or vineyard overseer was in charge of cultivation. Vines were also planted in yards and in terraced arbors or vineyards. The grapes were later hauled to the village press house to be made into wine.
Each person in the village was assigned a residence, and usually three or four families shared one residence, often related by kinship or marriage. Therefore, it was possible for several generations of one family to live in one dwelling. Single adult women lived with their parents and family, while single men had the option of living in dormitories. Whatever the number of families living in one dwelling, a shared entrance was used. Following the change in 1932, many properties were acquired by individual families and adapted for present-day living. As the Amana Colonies population has increased, new houses have filled in around the original dwellings.
The Homestead Dwellings are located on V Street, Homestead. Most of the dwellings in Homestead pictured here are today private residences and not open to the public. One of the washhouses behind the dwellings is now a shop called Alma's Washhouse, which carries antiques, gifts, and pottery. It is open to the public, 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday-Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm Saturday, 12:00pm to 4:00pm Sunday.
The Amana villages were situated in a soil rich area of Iowa and the farmers cultivating it required the services of a full service blacksmith and repair shop. Each Amana village had one blacksmith shop. The self-sufficient Amana villages had a number of craft and trade shops which employed Society members. These buildings were usually arranged in convenient groupings. Wagon shops, harness shops, and blacksmith shops, for example, were usually built together near the agricultural buildings, while shops such as bakeries and tailor shops which provided general community services and goods were more centrally located. Some mixed uses occurred when small shops were either incorporated into a residential building or attached to it. The Inspirationists drew many of their members from this group of small craftsmen and tradesmen, who brought their skills with them to America, where they thrived for a time in the rural Amana Colonies. Blacksmithing was an example of such a trade.
A blacksmith's shop was complete with bellows, anvil, tongs, clippers, cutters, hammers, and a horseshoeing area. Wheel assembly jigs, tire benders, oiling troughs and measuring wheels would be found in the portion of the shop specializing in wagon repair. In the Amana Colonies, wagon shops were often separate from blacksmith shops. For agrarian societies wagons were a necessity; in 1889, an inventory list shows that the Amana Society owned 172 wagons and buggies. Welding and machine works gradually replaced wagon making and repairing in many Iowa blacksmith shops after World War II. Electric welders, gas forges, metal cutting bandsaws, grinders and lathes entered many blacksmith shops in the 20th century. The Homestead Blacksmith Shop stands as an expression of an era when agricultural small town industry and commerce centered on the blacksmith's services.
Blacksmith Shop, 4117 V Street, Homestead. The blacksmith shop is privately owned and is not open to the public.
The Drying House in Homestead was used to dry fruits and vegetables. The people of the Amana Colonies had small gardens adjacent to their homes, where they could plant what they chose. Each kitchen house had a kitchen garden space assigned to it. In the drying house, beans and fruit were placed on racks to be dried by the heat from a small oven in the room. Cabbage, rhubarb, lettuce, and beans were among the items that women planted in the gardens. Raspberries, currants, and gooseberries also grew in the small gardens on the interiors of residential blocks and the berries were used in the communal kitchens. Apple, cherry, plum, and peach trees were commonly found surrounding kitchen houses, other communal dwellings, and in orchards at the village fringe.
Drying House, 4119 V Street, Homestead. The drying house is located next to the Homestead Meat Shop but is not open to the public.
The Homestead Meat Shop and Smokehouse was built around 1868, and was used to process meat for the several communal kitchens in the village of Homestead. Most butchering was done in the fall and winter, and meat was smoked in the smokehouse in order to preserve it. A small brick building to the west of the meat market is the last remaining drying house in the Amana Colonies. Here, the women from the kitchen houses would place beans and fruit on racks to be dried by the heat from a small oven in the room. The house next door to the Homestead Meat Market at the time of the 1932 reorganization was occupied by the manager, August Lipman.
Many Amana Colony recipes came from the German province of Westphalia, famed for its method for curing and smoking of fine hams to a distinctive flavor. These recipes and "trade secrets" have been handed down from generation to generation and remain unchanged today. Amana ham, bacon and Kasseler Rippchen (smoked pork chops) are carefully selected from prime Iowa corn-fed pigs. They are well-trimmed, sugar cured and well-smoked in the century-old smoke tower over hickory embers. Unlike hastened modern commercial processes, Amana bacon still takes nearly a month to prepare, and other Old World recipes can be found in their many other products still offered today. Butcher shops and smoking towers were substantial buildings in the Amana villages, and were usually simple gabled buildings, most built of brick and stone. Each village also had a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop, a cabinet shop, a wagon shop, a tailor shop, a bakery, a broom shop, a basket shop, a cobbler's shop, at least one ice house, a harness shop and an apiary.
The Homestead Meat Shop and Smokehouse is located at 4119 V St., in Homestead. It has been remodeled many times through the years, but the original smoke tower and storage areas are still used, and Amana products, including meat products, are still sold here, Monday-Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday 8:30am to 5:00pm. Open Sundays May-October. Call 319-622-3931 or visit www.amanameatshop.com for further information.
The Homestead Church is an excellent example of a Community of True Inspiration church. It was built in 1865 of locally made brick. The Homestead Church originally had living quarters for community members on both ends with the Saal (meeting hall) occupying the long middle section. Two sets of doors on opposite ends of the building allowed men and women to enter separately and reach their seats on the opposite ends of the Saal. Except for their size, Inspirationist churches were largely indistinguishable from residences, although unlike homes, they were never built of wood. The stone or brick churches resembled elongated houses and each village had a main church building which was the principal place of worship. Some residences, however, often had special church rooms that were used for daily prayers. The largest meeting room in the principal church building was used for general church meetings. Each church building was furnished with plain benches of scrubbed pine that took on a bleached appearance. Walls and ceilings were painted blue as they were in residences. The presiding elders sat facing the congregation on plain benches and a simple table held a lamp and the necessary books for worship and song. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the room and the room was always divided by a center aisle which was parallel to the two shorter side walls of the church. In several villages a press house used in making wine was built near the Church; wine was then stored in the church cellar.
According to the 1891 account of Perkins and Wick, "The meeting-houses are long and narrow; within, everything is simple--no pictures, no golden candlesticks, no cushioned pews." The unadorned surroundings were symbolic of the Inspirationists' approach to their faith, which they hoped would be taught as a plain system of theology, and not the scholastic theology that reigned in the German universities.
A radical pietist sect that broke away from the Lutheran Church in Germany in 1714, the Community of True Inspiration came to the United States in 1842 to escape religious persecution. The Community of True Inspiration is similar to other pietist groups in its emphasis on the personal religious experience of the believer. However, the Community is set apart by its belief in Inspiration. According to this doctrine, God continues to work and speak through his followers as He did in the Old Testament. The Community name for those individuals who received these messages was Werkzeuge (instruments). Church members study the testimonies given by the Werkzeuge, dating back to the founding of the community. Two Werkzeuge lived in the Amana Colonies: Christian Metz (1794-1867), who received testimonies that the community should move first to America, and then, later, to Iowa, and Barbara Heinemann Landmann (1795-1883), who was the last Werkzeug. The church is alive today under the name of the Amana Church Society. The Homestead Church is now operated by the Amana Heritage Society as a museum.
The Community Church Museum is located at 4210 V St., in Homestead. It is operated by the Amana Heritage Society and is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday, from May 1-October 31. There is an admission fee. Call 319-622-3567 for further information.
Homestead is unlike the other Amana villages (established from 1856 to 1862) because settlers had arrived there prior to it being purchased by the Inspirationists. In 1860, knowing that plans called for the Rock Island Railroad to pass through Homestead, the Amana Society purchased the town of Homestead in order to gain access for shipping the many goods produced by the community. The railroad became instrumental in the economic life of the Amana Colonies, and especially for importing wool and exporting textiles. One building that existed at the time of the Homestead purchase now makes up part of Die Heimat Country Inn. In later years, this building served as a communal kitchen house, run first by the Zscherny family and later as a dwelling by the Layer family. Local tradition suggests that prior to its use as a kitchen house, it was used as a hotel for early travelers.
The Die Heimat Country Inn is located at 4430 V St., in Homestead. Today, it still serves the Colonies' visitors as a quaint bed and breakfast, Die Heimat Country Inn. Call 319-622-3937 for further information.
Between 1865 and 1869, the Amana Colonists built a seven-mile-long canal stretching from the Iowa River near West Amana, through Middle Amana, then through Amana, and into Price Creek, just past town, where it continued to the river. They dug it with human, oxen, and steam power so it could provide waterpower to the mills in Middle Amana and Amana. A dredge helped to complete the project. The colonists built a dam to divert water from the Iowa River into the canal. The water turned water wheels, which in turn powered the shafts for the machinery in the mills. This race provided waterpower for the two textile mills and one flour mill which the society operated.
In the 1920s, the Society took out the shaft drives and replaced them with an electrical generator to power the machinery. A boat annually dredged the canal to remove silt until the electrical generators were installed and the water moved more constantly and less silt settled in the race. The millrace no longer powers the mills. The flood of 1993 put a stop to the generators because they require more water than the weakened sides of the race can contain. Hopefully, this is temporary and the millrace will be operable again in the near future. The Amana Colonies Historic Sites Foundation and the Amana Society, Inc. have secured grant monies to assist in repairing the millrace.
The Mill Race runs west-east through the Amana villages, from the Iowa River near West Amana past Amana. Drivers traveling north from Homestead on Hwy. 151 will pass over the Iowa River and then the Mill Race before they reach Amana Village.
The Museum of Amana History is comprised of three 19th-century buildings, consisting of the Noé House, the Schoolhouse and the Woodshed/Washhouse. The buildings are used to interpret communal life in the Amana Colonies. The Amana Society was one of many utopian communities founded in the United States during the 19th century. The Noé House, built in 1864 of locally produced brick, was originally a communal kitchen and later a doctor's residence. The original woodshed/washhouse still stands just to the south of the Noé House. The schoolhouse, built in 1870, operated as a school until 1954 after which it served as the Amana Post Office and a Sunday School. It has been part of the Museum of Amana History since 1976.
Exhibits in the Noé House trace the history and development of the Amana Colonies, depict a church interior, and display the varied crafts and industries of the Inspirationists. Temporary exhibits and special programs focus on particular aspects of Amana's culture. The Schoolhouse contains exhibits pertaining to Christmas in communal Amana, the Kinderschule, toys, handwork, carpet weaving, and a school display. An audio-visual presentation on Amana's history is shown regularly in the Schoolhouse. The woodshed/washhouse contains wine-making and gardening displays.
The Museum of Amana History is located at 4310 220th Trail, in Amana. The museum, operated by the Amama Heritage Society, offers a 20-minute, award-winning slide presentation shown regularly during museum hours. It is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Saturday; 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday, from April 1-October 31. Open Saturdays in February, March, November and December. There is an admission fee. Call 319-622-3567 for further information.
Built in 1870 and once a part of the pharmacy complex that included the two buildings to the south, the Powder House takes its name from a product produced there by William Miller, village pharmacist. In 1908, Miller developed a recipe for hog powder, a livestock cure-all feed additive. Although his vocation was producing cures for people, in an agricultural community it is not surprising that his talents would be put to use for livestock. The powder was widely used by the Amana Society farm department and area farmers. In 1990 the windmill atop the building was rebuilt.
The Amana Colonies were not lacking in qualified doctors. By 1890 three physicians served the Colonies: Dr. Winzenried, of Amana, a graduate of Rush Medical College; Dr. Herrmann of Middle Amana, who graduated from the Medical Department of the State University of Iowa, class of 1881; and Dr. Mörschell of Homestead, another graduate from the State University of Iowa, class of 1888. During the same era, Conrad Schadt, a well-known chemist, lived in the Amana Colonies. He produced great quantities of pepsin, which helps in the digestive breakdown of protein to peptides. Pepsin is found in the stomach of hogs and used as a digestive aid. Mr. Schadt was reportedly the first man west of Chicago who began the manufacture of this item, and was, according to William Perkins, "considered the best in the market."
The Powder House is located at 4315 - 220th Trail, in Amana, and is currently a woodcraft shop. Periodic woodcrafting demonstrations can be seen here year round Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Sunday 11:00am to 4:00pm. Call 319-622-3100 or visit the www.amanacolonies.com/pwp/ for further information.
Long a landmark in Amana, the Ox Yoke Inn occupies a former communal kitchen house, built in 1856. In 1870, the Society added the brick portion to enlarge the building. The Hertel Küche (kitchen) operated from 1856 until 1932, when Theodore Hertel bought the building from the Amana Society during the Reorganization. When the "Great Change" occurred many members bought the residences in which they were living from the Society as part of the privatization that followed the end of communal life. The "Great Change" began in March of 1931, when the leaders of the Amana Society informed the members of the increasingly bad financial condition of the Amana Society and by vote of the people of the Amana Colonies, the Society reorganized into separate divisions: the Amana Church Society, which looked after the spiritual and charitable affairs of the community; and the secular Amana Society which was organized as an incorporated, capitalistic stock company for pecuniary profit. By 1932 this change was complete. Although accounts vary somewhat, the Great Change of the Amana Society occurred basically as a response to growing secularization, a desire for individualism and personal choice, inefficiency and duplication within the society work force, increased outside visitation due to the popularity of the automobile, and the nationwide economic depression.
Throughout the communal period, the Amana villages had over 50 kitchen houses. In exterior appearances these buildings resembled other residential dwellings, except for an extension to the side. The kitchens were in this wing; the kitchen boss lived in the main part of the house. Several nearby homes were assigned to one kitchen house. All of the families living in the dwellings received their meals from the Community Kitchen. No one prepared individual family meals in the Amana Colonies although most families did begin to take their meals home to eat in the last years of the communal period.
Visitors have always enjoyed coming to the Amana Colonies for a family style meal, and several families in town opened restaurants in response to the demand. The Leichsenrings opened the Ox Yoke Inn in 1940, in the building just to the west of its present location. They moved shortly after that to the former Hertel Küche and have added on to the building over the years.
The Ox Yoke Inn is located at 4420 220th Trail, in Amana. It serves German family style meals year round, 11:00am to 2:00pm and 5:00pm to 8:00pm Monday-Saturday, and 9:00am to 7:00pm Sunday (brunch 9:00am to 1:00pm). Call 1-800-233-3441 or visit www.oxyokeinn.com for further information.
The Amana Colonies have always been a popular tourist spot, and even before the Reorganization of 1932, people visited the Amana villages out of curiosity about the communal society. The train, and later the automobile, greatly increased the number of visitors to the Amana Colonies. In order to accommodate the needs of travelers and visiting businessmen who came to the Amana Colonies to do business with the woolen and cereal mills, the Amana Society established the Amana Hotel in 1860, where a hotel manager and his family lived. Since 1932, the building has remained in the service of visitors as a hotel and currently as a restaurant. Originally just the frame portion of the building was sufficient to serve visitors and Taglöhners (hired hands). By 1884, however, demand had increased and the brick addition was constructed.
Life in the Amana Colonies was very insular, but the Colonies still needed contact with the greater world. The Inspirationists, despite their desire to create a spiritual alternative to the secular world surrounding the Amana Colonies, needed the outside world for business and social purposes. As an example of this, the society built a retail meat market to sell products to visitors in South Amana. Houses were provided for outside hired laborers (the taglöhners). Hotels in Amana, South Amana, and Homestead accommodated overnight guests. The Amana Hotel stands as a testimonial to the era when the seven villages were more separated from the outside world.
The Colony Inn Restaurant is located at 741 47th Ave., in Amana. It serves German family-style meals here year round, 7:00am to 2:30pm, 4:00pm to 8:00pm Monday-Saturday and 7:00am to 7:30pm Sunday. Call (319) 622-3030 or visit www.amanacolonies.com/colony-inn/ for further information.
Construction of the Woolen Mill in Amana began in 1859, and the mill complex was continually added to until 1943. A salesroom was later added in the 1960s. The production and sale of wool items has a long history in the Amana Colonies, and Amana's first settlers brought their looms in crates from Germany. The practice of selling woolen blankets, suiting and fabric began in 1838, when the Inspirationists lived at the Arnsburg Estate in Germany. Producing the wool for the Amana Colonies required more than just the looms and dyeing vats. The millwrights and metalworkers played an integral role in woolen production, repairing and servicing the machinery and mills. The wool itself, when possible, came from sheep raised near East Amana. The Amana Woolen Mill was originally water-powered generated from the seven-mile millrace, but this source was replaced by steam and finally electricity, including water powered generators. The impact of the sprawling complex of buildings that makes up the Woolen Mill reached far beyond its walls. The sound of the machines could be heard throughout the village of Amana and is remembered fondly by the local residents. Profits from the mill have supported the community throughout its history.
By 1890 the woolen mills produced 3,000 yards of woolen goods daily, which required over a half million pounds of wool annually. Although the Amana Society had over 3,000 sheep, wool still had to be imported from Texas, Colorado, and sometimes Australia. Members of the Amana Society acted as agents for the mills and traveled selling their goods, which were in demand from Maine to the Pacific. The second woolen mill was in Middle Amana. Perkins and Wick wrote about the mills, in their book History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, "There is no 'piece work' method here, for everything is done well, without the rush and hurry which we see in other factories. Their goods are the best in the market, and the following expression is often heard; 'Colony goods, full width, a yard wide'."
The wool moved through the carding, dyeing, weaving, and finishing departments and then into the storage building. Disaster struck the carding house in 1923, when a fire which began at a flour mill spread to the Woolen Mill complex. The carding house was repaired, but the third floor was not replaced. In 1943 a third floor was added to the weaving house, but this was later blown off during a severe windstorm in June 1998. Like the carding house in 1923, the Amana Society did not replace it, but rebuilt the second floor. Nationally, the woolen industry has borrowed much from the Amana Colonies, as the weavers have perfected many improvements in designs for machinery, later sharing them with other American mills with no patent or royalty asked.
The Amana Woolen Mill is located at 800 48th Ave., in Amana. Visitors can still watch the looms in action Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 4:00pm. Self-guided tours of the mill area are offered daily year round. Woolen products from the mill are sold in the Woolen Mill salesroom Monday-Saturday, 8:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, 11:00am to 5:00pm with longer hours in the summer. Call 1-800-222-6430 or visit www.amanawoolenmill.com for further information.
On the backside of the woolen mill, the machine and locksmith shop occupied a building adjacent to the millwright's shop. The metal workers kept the metal components of the mill and farm machinery repaired, and they installed new technology as it became available. In addition to maintaining the mills' machinery, the metal workers also made objects for general use, such as locks. The locksmiths in the Amana Colonies made a distinctive German-style lock. One author described the locks as "peculiarly large." They can be found in buildings throughout the Amana Colonies today.
Today, the machine shop is occupied by Roger's Anvil where artist-blacksmith Roger Quaintance hand forges quality ironwork on site. Roger's Anvil is open all year and visitors can see periodic blacksmithing demonstrations. The Industrial Machine Shop Museum, where many of the original machines are on display, is also located here. Various tools, some dating to 1860, are on display.
Roger's Anvil/Industrial Machine Shop Museum is located at 822 48th Ave., in Amana. It is open all year, Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm to 5:00pm with free admission. Please call 319-622-3482 for further information.
Calico making was part of the economic activity of the Inspirationists when they lived in Ebenezer, New York. Calico was originally a cotton cloth from India, and eventually denoted several kinds of cotton cloth. In the United States it usually refers to coarse and printed cloth. Several Inspirationists had been employed in the cloth industry in Germany, and brought their skills with them to the United States.
Built in 1861, the Amana Calico Mill grew from one to eight buildings at its height of production in the 1890s. Fine white cotton fabric from the south and east coasts moved from building to building for washing, drying, dyeing, printing, trimming, inspecting, packing, and shipping. Calico printing was a big industry. White muslin was acid-proofed and dyed in vats a story high, then starched and pressed on rollers powered by water from the Mill Race. In one printing process, wooden pegs protruded from the roller surface in patterns. The pegs were constantly bathed in acid, which removed the dye, leaving the acid-proofed cloth with its pattern in white. It took seven yards to make a dress, but the price for calico around the turn of the century was only about six cents a yard. The factory produced up to 4500 yards per day at its peak, and the railroads running through Homestead and Amana took the material to a national market, providing a substantial income to the community. Local women made clothes out of the material and, when those wore out, the rug makers wove the rags into rugs.
William Rufus Perkins, in his 1891 book History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, wrote, "The Calico Print Mills were erected in old Amana. They color and print from 3,000 to 4,000 yards daily. The heavy cotton goods are manufactured in the South for the Society. These are called "blue print" and have a good reputation throughout the country."
The factory produced calico for nearly 60 years, until the British naval blockade during World War I interrupted their imports of German dyes. Without the dyes they could no longer produce the quality of product they wanted and the factory closed down.
The two remaining buildings, the fire and printing houses, are used today by the Amana Furniture Shop. They have added on extensively to the east and north of their buildings for work and showroom space. Furniture made in the Amana Colonies continues with the tradition of being individually handcrafted by a skilled artisan. Traditional furniture pieces, such as tables, chests, beds, chairs, and clocks are popular.
The Amana Furniture Shop is located at 740 48th Ave.,in Amana. It is open Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday 11:00am to 5:00pm. Free guided tours of the furniture workshop are offered year round. Call 319-622-3291 or visit www.amanafurniture.com for further information.
The well-known Lily Lake between Amana and Middle Amana was formed about 1880 when a break in the Mill Race levee flooded a low slough area. The lake derives its name from the thousands of yellow American lotus lilies which bloom across the 170-acre lake in the summertime, for which it has become famous. The Lily Lake played several important roles in communal Amana. It served as a source of ice for both Amana and Middle Amana, which was then stored in village ice houses. The Lake also provided recreational opportunities for the colonists including fishing and ice-skating. During the communal period, lilies from the lake were sold to tourists, thus providing the colonists with a source for additional income.
One of Amana's most beautiful sights, it has become an inspiration for artists and photographers. A year-round haven for wildlife, the Lily Lake is a resting spot to migrating birds. Herons, bald eagles, muskrats and other animals occupy this ecological niche in a part-marsh, part-lake habitat. The Lily Lake is surrounded by a 3.1 mile recreational trail, the Kolonieweg (colony path), that connects the villages of Amana and Middle Amana.
Lily Lake is located between Amana and Middle Amana, south of the 220th Trail that connects these two villages. The recreational trail that surrounds the lake can be accessed from the 220th Trail or at the Amana Depot, Amana.
The Ruedy Küche (kitchen house), built in 1863, served up to 40 community members at each meal during the communal era and was one of about nine kitchen houses in Middle Amana. In the communal Amana Colonies no residents had their own kitchens; all community members and the Taglöhners (hired hands) ate at one of the over 50 kitchens operated in the Amana Colonies. At the kitchens, men and women ate separately and with minimal conversation. Each kitchen had a Küchebaas who directed the preparation of three meals and 2 small "snacks." The Küchebaas lived in the adjoining house with her family and also supervised the tending of the gardens, the preservation of fruits and vegetables for the winter, and the sorting of the onion sets for planting in the following year. Many a young woman dreaded sorting the onions because of the exacting standards of the Küchebaas, and yet, work was not all grim. Perkins and Wick, in their 1891 book, History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, wrote, "When passing their laundries and "kitchens" where the women are working, bursts of innocent laughter mingled with melodious song are to be heard. . ."
Throughout the communal period the Amana villages had over 50 kitchen houses. In exterior appearances these buildings resembled other residential dwellings, except for an extension to the side. The kitchens were in this wing; the kitchen boss lived in the main part of the house. Several nearby homes were assigned to one kitchen house and all of the families living in the dwellings received their meals from the Community Kitchen. No one prepared individual family meals in the communal Amana Colonies although most families did begin to bring their meals home to eat in the last years of the communal period.
Across the street from the Ruedy Küche, the coopershop sits quietly, belying the activity that once filled it. The coopers in the communal Amana Colonies produced tubs, barrels, and other containers used throughout the community.
The Communal Kitchen and Coopershop Museum is located at 1003 26th Ave., in Middle Amana. Operated by the Amana Heritage Society it is open to the public May 1 to October 31, 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday. There is a fee. Call 622-3567 for further information.
Hahn's Hearth Oven Bakery continues a tradition of baking breads and pastries in the original wood-fired stone hearth that has been in the building since it was built in 1864. Each village in the Colonies had bakeries to supply bread every day to each kitchen in the village. Middle Amana had nine kitchens that the baker would visit with his horse drawn wagon. As he approached he would ring a bell and one of the women would go out to tell him how many loaves the kitchen needed, usually about a dozen. On Saturdays a special treat arrived with the baker. He brought coffeecakes with delicious fruit fillings in the middle to grace the tables on Sunday morning. Many Amana Colony recipes are based on traditions originating in Germany: German Black Bread Homemade Style, Round White Bread, and other breads and pastries continue to be prepared in the Amana Colonies.
During the communal era of the Amana Colonies, two large grist mills were erected, one at Amana and one at West Amana, to process grain into flour. These mills were of great importance to the farmers in the vicinity, for there were no other mills nearer than Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, and for a distance of 50 miles to the west there were none at all. The processed flour was delivered to the community bakeries, including the one presently converted to Hahn's Hearth Oven Bakery.
Today, the Hahn family continues to operate the bakery and the hearth oven is still used although the bricks are now heated with natural gas. It is the only open hearth bakery remaining in service in the Amana Colonies today.
The Hahn Bakery is located at 2510 J St., in Middle Amana . It is open Tuesday-Saturday 7:30am until all products are sold (usually early afternoon), April-October with limited hours in November, December and March. Call 319-622-3439 for further information.
Dominating the landscape of the Amana Colonies, the farm complex sat clustered at the edge of each village. High Amana, like the other Amana villages, was equipped with a complete farm complex, allowing the village to be nearly self-sufficient. Each farm complex consisted of several barns. Essential to each village were an Ochsenstall (ox barn), Gaustall (horse barn), Füllerstall (colt barn), Kuhstall (cow barn), and a Saustall (hog barn). A variety of shapes and massing exist among the Amana Colony barns due to the addition of lean-tos and other structures which were added to the original barns to accommodate the growing needs of the community. Completing the farm complex were machine sheds, corn cribs, buggy sheds, granaries, and other farm buildings.
Each of the seven Amana villages had a specific area of cropland, pasture, and timber assigned to it. Each of these seven farms had a farm manager who supervised the day-to-day farming operations; all seven farm managers reported to the colony's general farm manager who assigned the acreage and crops each farm would produce as well as the livestock assignments. Barley was an important crop to the German colonists who used considerable amounts in the production of beer and livestock feed. Potatoes, of course, were a staple in the German diet of the Amana Colonies. Each village grew large amounts of potatoes which were served by the kitchen houses at every meal. Rye, beets, and turnips were also prominent in crop cultivation and in the kitchen houses. The Amana Colony farmers also grew a small amount of tobacco to be used as pipe tobacco and in cigars for Society consumption. Not all crops were for human consumption; some such as broomcorn and willows were used in making brooms and baskets. No more than five acres in a village would have been devoted to growing broomcorn. Each village had one-eighth to one-fourth acre dedicated to willow cultivation. The willows were brought from Germany to Ebenezer and then to the Amana Colonies. The Amana Colonies were famous for their onions which were considered to have a delicate flavor and to be long lasting. Each village grew a quantity of onions in separate fields for both local use and for sale in distant markets. Crop rotation played a major role in the agricultural use of the Amana landscape. Today, farming continues to be the Amana Colonies' biggest business. Crops of corn, soy beans, oats, and alfalfa cover the Amana Colony soil and Gelbvieh, Angus and Charolais cattle are raised.
The High Amana Farm Complex is located at 1300 220th Trail, High Amana. Today, the buildings are still used as part of a working farm and for crop, livestock and forestry managers' offices. The buildings are not open to the public.
Soon after the Inspirationists arrived in Iowa in 1855, they established a large farm and forestry operation, several flour, calico, and woolen mills, and a variety of other economic activities. Community members worked according to their skills and abilities, but they often hired outside workers for various jobs. These Taglöhners (hired hands) did not officially join the Church or participate in the communal life of the Amana Colonies. Even so, they played an integral role in the economic life of the community and were included to an extent in the social life of the villages. They lived in small buildings in each town and ate at the community kitchens. If they did seasonal work, they often moved on at the end of the harvest; but some stayed for several years working in the mills or on the farm. Many of the houses still stand today and are now used as residences. Perhaps the best examples of Taglöhner houses are in High Amana. The four small houses located on the west side of 12th Avenue were originally built to house the hired hands. After the "Great Change" in 1932, the Amana Society began to rent the Taglöhner houses.
According to William Perkins and Barthnius L. Wick, authors of History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration, published in 1891, "During the summer months nearly three hundred hired laborers are employed." Perkins went on to add that the men were well provided for, and enjoyed working in the Colonies so much that they were willing to work $5.00 dollars per month less then neighboring farmers were paying. Although the Inspirationists maintained good relationships with the Taglöhners, they did not attempt to admit outsiders into their sect or convert others to their beliefs.
High Amana's Taglöhner Houses are located at 703, 705, 709, and 713 12th Ave. Now homes of Amana Colonies residents, these houses are not open to the public.
Once the High Amana church, this building now serves as the Amana Arts Guild featuring arts and crafts from all seven Amana Colonies. Except for their size, Inspirationist churches were largely indistinguishable from residences, although unlike homes, they were never built of wood. In contrast to the brick Community Church Museum in Homestead, the High Amana Church was built of sandstone. Each village had a main church building which was the principal place of worship. The Saal (meeting hall) occupied the long middle section. The High Amana church was different from other Amana Colonies churches in that instead of two sets of doors for men and women to enter the church separately, this church only had one set of doors. Men and women entered through the same door and then were seated on opposite ends of the Saal. The largest meeting room in the principal church building was used for general church meetings. Residences, however, often had special church rooms which were used for daily prayers. Each church building was furnished with plain benches of scrubbed pine which took on a bleached appearance. Walls and ceilings were painted blue as they were in residences. The presiding elders sat facing the congregation on plain benches and a simple table held a lamp and the necessary books for worship and song. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the room and the room was always divided by a center aisle which was parallel to the two shorter side walls of the church.
Today, the Arts Guild showcases historic Amana folk art as well as the present work of local craftspeople. The Amana Arts Guild serves to preserve the folk art of past generations and to pass on artistic traditions to future generations. Many of Amana's traditional art forms are still practiced today. Area artisans still practice woodworking, willow basketry, needlework, quilting, blacksmithing, rug-making and weaving. Originally, while crafts were permitted, paintings and frivolous wall decorations were forbidden. If a picture were to hang on a wall, it had to have a religious theme. A popular craft among the Amana women was embroidery. Samplers and prayers were often embroidered using the German language. The art of creating lithograph prints was also practiced by Amana natives, especially by the Prestele family. Joseph Prestele, born in 1796 and an elder when the group came to America, was commissioned by the United States government to produce prints of fruits and flowers for the government and the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph's sons, Henry and Gottlieb, also shared his talents and many of the family's prints are on display at The Museum of Amana History in main Amana.
Other significant Amana artists include Carl Flick and John Noé. Flick started painting and drawing in 1929 at age 26. He studied and painted with Grant Wood and his paintings were included in national traveling exhibits and in east coast galleries. In 1954, the year of Noé's death, President Eisenhower admired Noé's painting displayed at the Iowa State Fair's Amateur Art Show, and Noé gave him the painting. Artist Marvin Cone described Noé as a "meticulous and conscientious craftsman who makes the old Amana live."
The Amana Arts Guild Center is located at 1210 G St., in High Amana. It is open May-September 10:30am to 4:30pm Wednesday-Sunday, October: 10:30am to 4:30pm weekends. Please call 319-622-3678 or visit www.jeonet.com/ag for further information.
Everything from tires to Amana beverage coolers to souvenirs has been sold at the High Amana Store. It gained importance in the 1920s as the manager, William Foerstner, expanded the merchandise to include tires, bicycles, radios, and other popular items. Now called the High Amana General Store, the building has remained essentially unchanged as the merchandise and the store's role in the community have changed. The pressed metal ceiling, long sales counter and other fixtures date to the 19th century. There are antique display cases in which gifts and Amana Colony made crafts are displayed, a hand pump, original patterned ceilings and other traditional decorations and furnishings. There is a kerosene pump inside for lamps and stoves. This pump is one of the oldest functional antiques in the store.
The founder of Amana Refrigeration, George Foerstner, worked with his father at this store until he started making Amana beverage coolers in 1934. George Foerstner's business career, which began in this store assisting his father, eventually led to being President and founder of Amana Refrigeration, Inc. The High Amana Store remains today in the Foerstner family.
The High Amana Store is located at 1308 G Street. The store, now operated by the Amana Heritage Society, is open April-October, Monday-Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm, and Sunday 12:00pm to 5:00pm. From November-March the store is only open Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Please call 319-622-3232 for further information.
The Amana Colony cemeteries were all laid out within a few years of the settlement of their respective villages with each of the cemeteries traditionally surrounded by a hedge of pine trees. Conifers were frequently planted in and around cemeteries because they keep their leaves all winter and were regarded as religiously symbolic of the eternal life promised through Christ. Originally wooden markers were used in the Amana Colony cemeteries. These markers were approximately the same size as the concrete ones now in use, and had the name of the deceased, date of death and age at death printed on them. Around the turn of the century, the process of replacing these early markers with the more durable concrete began. Graves in the Amana Colony cemeteries all face east, as this is the direction from which the Inspirationists believe Christ will approach at the time of the Second Coming. Until the 1930s, suicide victims were buried in a separate section and faced west. Children and non-Amana Church members are still buried in separate sections of the cemeteries. Church members are buried in chronological order of death, reflecting a degree of practicality, the belief that all are equal, and the belief that all are brothers and sisters in Christ and, therefore, the entire cemetery is a "family plot."
William Perkins, in his 1891 book about the Inspirationists, wrote, "The burial customs are simple, without the ostentation of many other denominations. No costly monuments are used, but only a simple slab of wood, bearing an inscription of the name and age of the deceased. They do not believe in prayer for the dead nor in any outward form of mourning, but the memory of the departed members is cherished with more than filial affection in the hearts of friends, --something worth more than hired mourners and outward show."
The High Amana Cemetery is located at G St. and 16th Ave., in High Amana. It is privately owned and is not open to the public.
Amana Colony barns show strong German and American influence. A number of the barns were built as banked barns, built into a gentle slope with a one-story stone foundation and were thus able to take advantage of the rolling topography of the Amana Colonies. A functional forebay offering the protection of one wall and a roof was also a popular feature of many Inspirationist barns. Built of wood and left unpainted, barns, like frame houses, weathered naturally into a light gray color. Rusting iron nails added brown and red streaks to the color of barns. Wooden louvered ventilators appear to have been used for most of the communal period. Like most Amana Colony buildings, barns usually employed a gable roof. Large barns had lean-to's and other small structures added to them, giving them a variety of shapes, forms, and massing. A number of barns were essential in each village. A typical village needed an Ochsentall (ox barn), Gaustall (horse barn), Füllerstall (colt barn), Kuhstall (cow barn), and a Saustall (hog barn). Machine sheds, corn cribs, buggy sheds, granaries, and other farm buildings usually completed the complex. East Amana, for example, noted for its sheep, had two sheep barns in its complex. Occasionally a scalloped apron under a porch eave, a weather vane on a roof, or wooden ventilators broke the severe structural lines of the simple barns. The agricultural buildings grouped together at one edge of the village were dominant visual characteristics of the Amana villages and stood in sharp contrast to the typical family farm which characterized the rest of Iowa during the Amana Colonies' communal area.
The landscape was as important in defining the physical character of the Amana Colonies as the distinctive and simple building style. The dominant character of the landscape has always been agriculture. Dependent on agriculture for their existence, the Amana Colony Inspirationists chose their Iowa site for its fertile soil as well as its sources of water and building supplies. The seven Amana villages were organized as agricultural villages. Indeed, Article III of the Amana Society, written soon after they arrived in Iowa, stated "Agriculture and the raising of cattle and other domestic animals, in connection with some manufacturing and trades, shall under the blessing of God form the means of sustenance for this Society."
The West Amana Barns are located at 7th Avenue & F15 Blvd., in West Amana. Still used as farm buildings, these barns are not open to the public.
Built in 1862, the West Amana General Store retains much of its original appearance despite its varied uses over the years. As a general store, it supplied community members and people from surrounding towns with goods. People traveled some distance to shop in the Amana Colonies. The general stores in Upper South Amana, Homestead, West Amana, and Amana served as hubs of business for large areas surrounding those towns. The Amana villages differed greatly from other Iowa towns and villages not only because of their density and homogeneous communal homes, but also because the uniformity of the architecture among diverse types of buildings. The uniqueness of the Amana villages was a result of the simplicity and similarity of their buildings and the spaces surrounding them. The Inspirationists of Amana used only one standard design for residential, industrial, and institutional buildings. Because of the non-competitive, self-reliant philosophies of Amana society, there were no commercial establishments other than the general store where each member received a yearly allowance for merchandise.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Amana Society Society leased the building and it has operated primarily as an antique store. In the 1980s, the West Amana post office was also located at the store for a short time.
The West Amana General Store is located at 511 F St, in West Amana, and is presently a large antique shop, open to the public 10:00am to 5:00pm daily.
Originally a hotel for tourists before becoming a private residence, today the Lower South Hotel again provides lodging for visitors as one of South Amana's bed & breakfast establishments. The Amana Colonies have always been a popular tourist spot, even before the Reorganization of 1932. Visitors came to the Amana Colonies out of curiosity about the way of life here, as well as for their manufactured goods, such as woolen and calico products. The train, and later the automobile, greatly increased the number of visitors to the Amana Colonies. In order to accommodate the needs of travelers and visiting businessmen, who came to the Amana Colonies to do business, the Amana Society established several hotels, including this one in South Amana.
Because of the similarity of all Amana Colony buildings, hotels could be, and were, easily converted into residential dwellings. Such was the case with the Lower South Hotel after the Great Change. Both the wooden and brick portions of the building, like all Amana Colony dwellings, had a gable roof and nine-over-six windows. The only applied details to an Amana Colony dwelling were panel doors, featuring an Amana metal lock, and a return gable. Another exterior feature of many houses were trellises--simple wooden latticework nailed to houses as vine supports. The trellises usually extended from the ground to the first floor windows and protected the mortar of brick and stone houses from cracking caused by intruding vines and allowed moisture to evaporate from the building surface. In buildings such as the Lower South Hotel, visitors can still see the uniqueness that the seven villages in the Amana Colonies have to offer--a distinct and special place where a cultural group, over time, has modified its culture and institutions without losing its identity.
The Lower South Hotel is located at 410 P St., in South Amana. It is now a bed & breakfast, call 319-622-6479 for further information.
Located in two restored barns from Amana's communal period, the Barn Museum and the neighboring Communal Agriculture Museum contain exhibits that reflect Amana's agricultural heritage. The Communal Agriculture Museum, which was once an ox barn or Ochsentall contains antique agricultural implements used on Amana's communal farms as well as photographs depicting the role of agriculture in communal Amana. It also contains a large colorful map of the Amana Society's land and farming boundaries. The Communal Agriculture Museum is operated by the Amana Heritage Society.
What was once a Gaustall (horse barn) is now the Barn Museum. This museum features the miniature woodcrafting of Henry Moore and is the largest known collection of miniatures made by one man. In the scale of one inch to the foot, Henry Moore built a unique world with dozens of buildings of both regional and national historic significance.
Amana barns show strong German and American influence. A number of these barns were built as banked barns, built into a gentle slope with a one-story stone foundation, which took geographic advantage of the rolling topography of the Amanas. A functional forebay offering the protection of one wall and one roof was also a popular feature of many Amana barns. Built of wood and left unpainted, barns, like frame houses, weathered into a light gray color. The agricultural buildings, grouped together at one edge of the village, as are these barns at the edge of South Amana, were dominant visual characteristics of the Amana villages and stood in sharp contrast to the typical family farm which characterized the rest of Iowa during Amana's communal era. Farming techniques have greatly changed since the communal era, when oxen were still used on the farms as late as 1932. Today, farming remains the Amana Society's biggest business, with corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa crops, and Gelbvieh, Angus, and Charolais cattle raised in the Amana countryside.
The Communal Agriculture Museum is located at 505 P St., South Amana. It is operated by the Amana Heritage Society and is open 10:00am to 5:00pm, Monday - Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday, May - September. There is a fee, call 319-622-3567 for further information. The Barn Museum, just west of the Communal Agriculture Museum, is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, April - October, there is a fee for admission, call 319-622-3058 for further information.
The Baeckerei was built in 1860 and served as the communal bakery for South Amana for many years. Each village in the Colonies had bakeries to supply bread every day to each kitchen in the village. Horse drawn wagons would deliver the baked goods. As the driver approached he would ring a bell and one of the women would go out to tell him how many loaves the kitchen needed, usually about a dozen. On Saturdays a special treat arrived with the baker. He brought coffeecakes with delicious fruit fillings in the middle to grace the tables on Sunday morning. Many Amana Colony recipes are based on passed down traditions originating in Germany: German Black Bread Homemade Style, Round White Bread, and other breads and pastries continue to be prepared in the Amana Colonies. At the Baeckerei, the bake oven is still intact, but has not been used for many decades.
In 1989, the Baeckerei was renovated as a Bed and Breakfast. Antique furniture and old photographs enhance the interior of the Baeckerei. The Baeckerei offers the unique lodging opportunity of staying in one of South Amana's former communal bakeries.
The Baeckerei Bed and Breakfast is located at 507 Q St., in South Amana. For further information call 319-622-3597 or 1-800-391-8650.
The schools in the Amana Colonies were similar to churches and were generally built of brick. Schools were sometimes centrally located or, as the case with this former school in South Amana, on the village fringe. Almost always, schools were located near an orchard which the school children tended. The schoolmaster usually lived in a residence that was part of the school building. Children attended school from the ages of seven to 14. At 14, the girls received a kitchen assignment while the boys were assigned to the farm, a shop, or a mill.
Each Amana village had a Kinderschule for children from the ages of two to seven. All mothers returned to their village assignments when their children reached the age of two. The Kinderschule was generally a small frame building with a pitched roof, and like other Amana Colony buildings, it was simple and unadorned. In the days before the Great Change, education was compulsory, and from seven to 14 every child attended school the entire year. The school hours were from 8 am until noon while the afternoons were spent teaching various kinds of manual training. German and English were taught an hour each, but the everyday conversation of the school was in the German language.
The South Amana School is located at 505 R St., in South Amana. It is now used as an apartment building, and is not open to the public.
Throughout the communal period the Amana villages had over 50 kitchen houses. In exterior appearance these buildings resembled other residential dwellings except for an extension to the side. The kitchens were in this wing; the kitchen boss lived in the main part of the house. Most cellars were used for potato and vegetable storage and to keep milk and other products cool. The extensions also contained the communal dining room. Several nearby homes were assigned to one kitchen house. All of the families living in these homes received their meals from the community kitchen. No one prepared individual family meals in the communal Amana Colonies although most families did begin to take their meals home to eat in the last years of the communal period.
Each kitchen house had a kitchen boss who supervised the neighborhood women who were assigned to cook, garden, serve, and clean on a rotating schedule. The kitchens contained large brick stoves with an iron top as well as troughs for running water. The village butcher made deliveries of meat products, the baker brought bread, the cow barn supplied milk, and flour and sugar came from the general store. Each kitchen had a nearby garden where vegetables were grown. Chicken houses, usually of unpainted wood and often constructed with a shed-roof, were nearby; although a brick chicken house survives in South Amana. Some kitchens had small sheds where the women could store their garden tools.
The Upper South Amana Communal Kitchen is located at 27 220th Trail, in Upper South Amana. It is now an apartment building and not open to the public.
From the quaint hearth ovens of communal life, the Amana Society Bakery has grown. This typical brick bakery once served the village of South Amana. Each village in the Colonies had bakeries to supply bread every day to each kitchen in the village, delivered by horse drawn wagon. As the baker approached he would ring a bell and one of the women would go out to tell him how many loaves the kitchen needed, usually about a dozen. On Saturdays a special treat arrived with the baker. He brought coffeecakes with delicious fruit fillings in the middle to grace the tables on Sunday morning. Many Amana recipes are based on traditions originating in Germany.
As people outside the Colonies expressed interest in the traditional German recipes the Amana Colonies offered, the bakeries began producing for tables other than those of the dining halls of the Inspirationists. Today, breads produced at the Amana Society Bakery, are sold to stores throughout major Iowa metropolitan centers as well as the Amana Stone Hearth Bakery in Amana. Amana bread is available in stores and shops throughout the colonies. The traditional baking methods have combined with new, modern technology. The Amana bakery offerings include Sesamecrust White Bread, German Black Bread Homemade Style, Round White Bread, Old Fashioned potato rolls and many others.
The Amana Society Bakery is located at 23 220th Trail, in Upper South Amana. It is not open to the public; however, their products are sold at the Amana Stone Hearth Bakery in Amana Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday 10:00am to 4:00pm.
Local timber and trees were very important to the Amana Colonies. The Amana Society used local timber in building and in crafts, and sold it to neighboring settlers. The colonists understood the timber economy and cut elm, hickory, hackbury, and oak for lumber. However, following the testimony of Werkzeug (a prophet who received messages from God) Barbara Heinemann Landmann against the sinful worldliness of "pleasures of the eye," the Amana Society leadership forbade the planting of shade and ornamental trees. Heinemann admonished her fellow Inspirationists to "see to it that all trees not bearing fruit be removed from the house, for they belong to the pleasures of the eye." In response, apple, cherry, plum, and peach trees were commonly found surrounding kitchen houses and in orchards at the village fringe.
Despite Landmann's admonition to grow only fruit trees in the villages, the Inspirationists planted pine groves throughout the Amana Colonies. There is a long tradition of Amana Colony residents planting trees in groves. Groves of Austrian pines (Pinus nigra) were planted around the perimeter and along the approach to each cemetery to shield and protect these tranquil areas. Throughout the Amana Colony landscape, Tannenwälder (pine groves) and schulwälder (pine groves planted and tended to by schoolchildren) dot the landscape. Amana Colony school children planted the first of these groves near Price Creek, just to the north of Amana, in the 1860s. The tall, erect pines stood for many years and the Schulwald was a favorite place for Sunday walks and outings. The Amana Society harvested that grove of trees in the 1940s, at the request of the Federal government, to contribute to the war effort during World War II. This act also demonstrated the American patriotism of the Amana Society for those suspicious of their German roots and ties.
Although heavily damaged in a windstorm in June of 1998, one of the smaller schulwalds, planted just east of Upper South Amana, remains today as an example of this distinct feature of the Amana landscape.
The Upper South Amana Schulwald is located east of 220th Trail. It can be viewed from the street but is located on private property, and public access is not available.
Barthel, Diane L. Amana: From Pietist Sect to American Community. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.
Culture and Environment A Challenge for the Amana Colonies, an Inventory and Plan for the Amana Colonies, Iowa County, Iowa. Charlottesville, Virginia. Land and Community Associates, in cooperation with the Amana Historic Landmark Committee and Iowa Division of Historic Preservation, 1977
Foerstner, Abigail. Picturing Utopia : Bertha Shambaugh & the Amana photographers. Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, 2000.
Holloway, Mark. Heavens on Earth : Utopian Communities in America 1680-1880. New York: Dover Publications, 1966.
Mandelker, Ira. Religion, Society, and Utopia in Nineteenth-Century America. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984.
Ohrn, Steven G. Remaining Faithful: Amana Folk Art in Transition. Des Moines: Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, 1988.
Perkins, William Rufus and Barthinius L. Wick. History of the Amana Society or Community of True Inspiration. Connecticut: Hyperion Press, 1975 reprint, originally printed in 1891.
Shambaugh, Bertha M.H. Amana: The Community of True Inspiration. Iowa City: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 1988 reprint, originally printed in 1908.
-------Amana That Was And Amana That Is. Iowa City: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 1971 reprint, originally printed in 1932.
Streissguth, Thomas. Utopian Visionaries. Minneapolis: Oliver Press, 1999.
Webber, Philip E. Kolonie-Deutsch: Life and Language in Amana. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993.
Zug, Joan Liffring and Melinda Bradnaa, Dorothy Crum, ed. The Amanas: A Photographic Journey 1959-1999. Iowa City: Penfield Press, 2000.
Zug, Joan Liffring and John Zug. The Amana Colonies. Monticello, Iowa: Julin Printing Co., The Amana Society, 1988.
Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau
Websites with further information on historic sites featured in this itinerary:
Shaker Village, New Hampshire
Shaker Village, Massachusetts
Shakers Historic District
Oneida Mansion House, New York
Historic District in Butler County, Pennsylvania
for Historic Preservation
Park Service Office of Tourism
National Scenic Byways Program
The Amana Colonies, was produced by the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of the Interior, in cooperation with the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Amana Heritage Society, the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC). It was created under the direction of Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Patrick Andrus, Heritage Tourism Director, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Director. The Amana Colonies is based on information in the files of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark collections. These materials are kept at 800 North Capitol St., Washington, D.C., and are open to the public from 9:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday.
The Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau conceptualized and compiled photographic and written materials for the itinerary, guided by Lisa McGrath. Contextual essays were written by Lanny Haldy of the Amana Heritage Society, with the exception of "Utopias in America," written by Rustin Quaide (of NCSHPO). Shannon Bell coordinated project production for the National Register Travel Itinerary team, assisted by Jeff Joeckel and Rustin Quaide (all of NCSHPO). The itinerary was designed by Shannon Bell and Jeff Joeckel, descriptions were edited by Rustin Quaide and Kristen Carsto (Catholic University intern), who additionally assisted with preparation of the photographs for the web. Nathan Poe designed the itinerary map. Heather Cushman (NCSHPO) provided editorial assistance. A special thank you to the Amana Heritage Society for providing invaluable historical photographs, and Catherine Guerra and Lanny Haldy with that organization for their assistance.