Thursday, April 8, 2010

Amana Colonies

The Amana Colonies are a group of settlements of radical German Pietists in Iowa, comprising seven villages. Calling themselves the Ebenezer Society or the Community of True Inspiration. They first settled in New York state near Buffalo in what is now the Town of West Seneca.

However, in order to live out their beliefs in more isolated surroundings they moved west to the rich soil of east-central Iowa (near present-day Iowa City) in 1855. They lived a communal life until the mid 1930s. Due to this, the Amanas are sometimes mistaken as Amish.

A striking feature of the Amana Colonies is that for eighty years they maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy, importing very little from the wider, industrializing U.S. economy. The Amanians were able to achieve this independence and life style by adhering to the specialized handcrafts and farming occupations which they had brought with them from Germany.

Today, Amana is a major tourist attraction known mainly for its restaurants and craft shops. Included in the shops are woodworking shops, wine shops, and even a brewery called Millstream. The colonies as a whole have been listed as a National Historic Landmark since 1965.

  • Editor: Below are some examples of postcards from the Amana Colonies, published in the 1960s. Yes, I think they are cool. After all it is Americana, you gotta love it!

    A typical Amana home - The Amana Society, a corporation flourishing under a practical idealism, originally started with a profound religious and spiritual motive in a quest for the American way of freedom of belief and worship.

    Amana Home ( Amana Heim) - Constructed of brick made from native clay, timbers hewed in the Amana forests, morised and tended without nails, restored with authentic and original furnishings of the century old Amana Colony. Thousands of visitors come every year to enjoy the quaint surroundings, to observe and partake in their unique way of eating and living.

    Hahn's Bakery at Middle Amana - Bread and coffee cakes are baked in a century old stone hearth oven, using the simple recipe of a hundred years ago. Thousands of visitors come every year to enjoy the quaint surroundings and fine foods made and served in the Amana Colonies.

    Krauss Furniture Shop South Amana - An Amana craftsman works on a walnut rocking chair.

    Debbie V. said...

    What a great place - one I'd enjoy visiting I'm sure. My opinion of the German immigrants to the U.S. really blossomed after I did a research paper about them a couple of years ago. So industrious! They loved music.

    Heidi Ann said...

    Very interesting! I had never heard anything about this before.
    I can always learn something from you!

    Major Pepperidge said...

    Mmmm, look at that bread! Never visited the Amana colony, but we used to go to the Amish village near us (in Pennsylvania) and my mom bought fresh bread.