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Go to Old Economy Village to visit the 19th century
July 30, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Sorry it took a week to get to updating the “days off” blog posts. I’m not off now. Back to work, in fact, and The Boss (at Home) is recuperating, literally, from the last of our days off. More about that as time progresses.
One of the cool nearby places for one of our Tours Put Together by The Boss (at Home) That Don’t Involve Flying or Overnight Hotel Stays is in nearby Ambridge, Pa.
Wipe off the thought of dead, dying or rejuvenated industrial sites. This place is really cool and a step back to the 19th century.
It’s Old Economy Village, a Pennsylvania state historic site and a treasure right nearby. The village is a preserved section of a settlement by the Harmonist Society, a group that sought to be prepared for the return of Christ, which its founder predicted was coming in 1830.
Unlike modern religious cults that drink cyanide laced Kool-Aid or get into shootouts with the feds, the Harmonists were industrious. The village made a living off its incredible textile production, raised its own crops and sold some to surrounding residents, and maintained a natural history museum open to the public, a big deal in the 1800s in a small town.
In later years, the group invested in industry and hired help to run its businesses, necessary because with celibacy as a requirement and the ending of accepting new outside members in the 1830s, the number of Harmonists dwindled.
The structures that are open for touring include the festival hall, where big meetings were held upstairs and a big wine cellar was downstairs. The Harmonists, with their roots in Germany, were vintners and brewers, too, but they did not consume. They sold their products. Some of the buildings still have grape vines growing along their sunny sides, necessary to get the right kinds of grapes to grow in Western Pennsylvania in the 1800s to make a palatable wine.
There also is a nice exhibit hall that explains a lot about the Harmonists.
You can learn a lot about an interesting group in an interesting time period for not a big investment in fuel and $10 bucks per adult, $9 per senior and $6 for children ages 3 to 11 paid for admission. Wait for a guided tour (times are listed on the website at oldeconomyvillage.org) and enjoy the afternoon. Bring a good camera because the gardens are beautiful. (Hopefully the photos that accompany this entry will make you feel like I did: That the modern world outside the village had vanished.)
And, the knowledgeable volunteers at the site say Christmas is a great time to visit to see all the decorations and the luminaria lighting all the paths.
The massive Rapp House, where founder George Rapp lived, is undergoing renovations and should reopen in the fall, which makes our return visit almost a guarantee.
When The Boss (at Home) can walk again without that damnable ankle brace thing.
More on that as time progresses.
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Old Economy Village (the Rapp House is under renovations, thus the only 21st century item visible in the form of that blue tarp.)