Thursday, June 25, 2015

Historic Harmony

The Colonel and I continued our trip back to Florida with Terre Haute and Vincennes in our rear view mirror and New Harmony in our sites.

We had never been to New Harmony before and were eager to visit this historic, Indiana city. My younger sister has been there and she said we must stay at the New Harmony Inn Resort and eat at the Red Geranium Restaurant while there.

We were fortunate that there was a room at the inn (now we know what Joseph and Mary felt like) available for us for the night. There was a wedding party staying at the resort. We were able to watch the ceremony from our room and balcony.

This was our bed for the night. The room was pretty and the view of the lake was pleasant and calming.

We walked around New Harmony after we checked in to our room. It was a bit overcast, cool (60s) and somewhat buggy. There were several little flies and gnats that were pestering us but they did not stop our sightseeing and picture taking.

New Harmony is the site of two attempts to establish Utopian communities. The first, Harmonie (1814-1825) was founded by the Harmonie Society, a group of Separatists from the German Lutheran Church. Led by Johann Georg Rapp (George Rapp), they left their first American home in Harmonie, Pennsylvania and established a second community on the western frontier of Indiana (Indiana would become the nineteenth state in 1816, two years after Harmonie's founding).

During the ten years in which they cultivated the new town of Harmonie, the Harmonists, with their strong German work ethic and devout religious rule, achieved enormous economic success and became known as the "wonder of the west". A little more than a decade later they sold the town and surrounding lands to Robert Owen, a Welsh-born industrialist and philosopher, for his Utopian experiment. The Harmonists then returned to Pennsylvania to build a third town, Economy, near Pittsburgh.

Robert Owen wanted to create a perfect society through free education and the abolition of social classes and personal wealth. He encouraged world-wide scientists and educators to settle in "New" Harmony. With the help of his partner, William MacLure of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, the Owen/MacLure community introduced educational and social reforms in America.

Today visitors and residents enjoy New Harmony's restaurants, galleries, antique shops and its historic buildings. New Harmony is also known for its many gardens, sculptures and public spaces designed for quiet contemplation and spiritual renewal.

The Colonel and I enjoyed our evening walk through the town. Here are some of the sites we came upon as we strolled the quiet, quaint streets of New Harmony.

One of the earliest log cabins built in the town

Some pretty old houses.

And some even older ones.

One of the log cabins was called the Oculus, a camera obscura. It had a door with a hole in it. When you stepped inside and your eyes adjusted to the darkness you could see images of the trees that were across the street. 

We had dinner at Sara's restaurant in town. The food was good and the service was friendly. The restaurant was on a street that was lined with pretty, interesting, old buildings.

We saw this little lending library tucked beside one of the pretty buildings. Got to love small, quaint towns. We didn't see anything we wanted to read.

It was getting late and we went back to our room. We would see more of New Harmony in the morning before we made our way to Lincoln City, Indiana to see Abe Lincoln's boyhood home.

Morning came and we took my little sister's advice and had breakfast at the Red Geranium restaurant.

We could have had a continental breakfast for free because of our stay with the resort inn, but we opted to spend extra money for a full breakfast (we are worth every penny). Our waitress asked where we were from. We told her Florida. She said her sister used to live in a small town there and that we probably have never heard just so happened to be our little town.

New Harmony has a nice museum/visitor's center and we definitely wanted to see that before we left town. That was our first stop after breakfast. There we watched an informative video about the history of New Harmony and saw a fantastic diorama/model of early New Harmony. The gift shop was nice too, as always we got some books.

We walked around town a little more that morning. We visited some of the pretty gardens, stopped by the old cemetery and the Roofless Church.

We saw the Harmonists' old mill built in 1814.

We made another stop at Sara's restaurant so that I could try a Harmonie Bier. Sara, the restaurant owner, pulled my beer for me as she told me that this was made with the old recipe of the Harmonists. The beer, or bier was very good (Germans make excellent bier).

The Colonel had read about "Gabriel's Footprint" being located in New Harmony. Of course we had to find it! We did. Apparently in 1819, the Archangel Gabriel came to Earth and landed in George Rapp's backyard. Rapp told his people that Gabriel had given him secret divine information. The foot prints were the "evidence" of the angel's visit. Maybe the information was that the world would end on September 15, 1829. That was what Mr. Rapp told his followers after they left New Harmony. When this did not happen, the Haromonist commune broke apart. The prints are now a bit difficult to see today. The slab of concrete is in the backyard of what was once Rapp's house and is behind a brick wall. I held my camera over the wall and tried my best to get a decent picture.

On our way out of town we made the last stop of our New Harmony visit. We stopped and entered the Labyrinth. It was very pretty. I loved the little stone building at the center.

This is what it looked like inside (I had to take the photo through a window).

The Labyrinth was an excellent way to end our stay in New Harmony. Now, on to the next stop along our way back to Florida. Stay tuned my dear readers.