Friday, April 20, 2012

Old Economy Village in Ambridge PA


A few weeks ago Sue, Debra and I went to Old Economy Village in Ambridge, PA.

Old Economy was a village started by the Harmony Society in 1824.

The Harmony Society was a religious group that was based on the early Christian church of sharing all goods among the members.

Because they expected Christ’s Second Coming to Earth at any moment, they adopted celibacy in 1807 in order to purify themselves for the Millennium – Christ’s 1,000 year reign on Earth.

It is really no surprise that they all died out.

By the end of the nineteenth century only a few Harmonists remained. In 1905 the Society was dissolved and its vast real estate holdings sold, much of it to the American Bridge Company, who subsequently enlarged the town and renamed it Ambridge. Six acres of the Society’s original holdings, along with seventeen buildings, were acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1916.

Today, these six-acres, surrounded by Ambridge’s National Register Historic District, are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as a National Historic Landmark site.
The historic site, which contains the seventeen restored historic structures and garden built between 1824 and 1830, originally was the religious and economic hub of the Harmony Society. The buildings, grounds, library, archives and 16,000 original artifacts are a memorial to the Society’s commitment to the religious discipline and economic industry that built their American Utopia.

We toured the outside, the gardens and the inside of the houses.

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The houses have such a charming old world style.

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The inside of the houses and the furnishings have been well preserved.

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The Cellar Vault was very interesting.

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The gardens were both filled with flowers for beauty and food.

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The society wanted a statue that would convey harmony.

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They had their own doctor.

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They had their own store but they sold to people outside the society in order to buy the things they couldn’t make themselves.

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They had their own schools also.

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The one thing that really fascinated  me was the Natural History museum.

It was filled with stuffed birds and animals.

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They had their own printing press.

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They were almost completely self sufficient.

We enjoyed our day and learned a lot about a society we didn’t even know existed before our trip to Ambrige, PA.

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