Preservation, Travel

Residential architecture of New Harmony

I’ll admit straight out that I know only a little bit about New Harmony’s history. Like every lifelong Hoosier I learned in the fourth grade about the 1810s-20s utopian experiments here. The first experiment, the Harmony Society communal religious sect, founded the town in 1814. Robert Owen bought the town in 1825 and tried again to build utopia around cooperative principles but after just two years he threw in the towel.

Around New Harmony

I suppose these log cabins represent the Harmony Society era. I have no idea if these are original or not but I’d guess not.

Lenz house property

Several brick and frame houses of the Harmonist and Owenite eras do survive. This white house, the c.1822 Lenz house, is from the Harmonist period. I thought surely I’d photographed it in good light, but this sunset photo is the only one I appear to have. Part of the very modern New Harmony Welcome Center is in the photo at left.

Sunset over the Lenz House

It’s not clear to me at all which brick buildings are Harmonist and which are Owenite, but the downtown district is full of them.

Around New Harmony

I wish I’d backed way up to bring the building below entirely into the frame, because I believe now this was one of the Owenite adult dormitories.

Around New Harmony

I gather that in the post-Owenite years, New Harmony tried to continue to lead in social and scientific concerns. It’s all fascinating, really, but more than I intend to cover here — check out the town’s Wikipedia page for a thumbnail.

I just want to show you pretty house pictures. I love an old house! This is the one we stayed in, the c. 1860 Orchard House, part of the New Harmony Inn. We had the place to ourselves for our long weekend. I’ll share interior photos in an upcoming post.

The Orchard House

Of all the other older houses in New Harmony this one’s facade appeals to me most. I love its porch!

New Harmony home

Many of the older homes are typical of other Indiana places.

Around New Harmony

I’m drawn to Victorians as I pass them on the street, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in one. They’re too fussy for me to look at every day.

New Harmony home

I couldn’t tell you the first thing about this house’s architectural style, but it sure has lots of interesting details.

New Harmony home

Finally, a Federal style house.

New Harmony home

As we pedaled our bikes around New Harmony we did see some newer homes, primarily in styles popular in the 1950s and 1960s. On the main drag I noticed at least one house that was probably no older than 1980. But for the most part, living in New Harmony means living in an older home.

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17 thoughts on “Residential architecture of New Harmony

  1. It looks like a cool place. I presume your stay did not involve your Mrs getting fresh eggs out from under chickens while you split some wood for the cooking fire?

  2. it is rare to have in such good condition (I speak of the white wooden house) buildings of the 1822’s. Would it be original?
    I think that just like the building in which you lived and which dates from 1860, it has been renovated.
    It’s interesting all this story for me (I’m in Paris (FRANCE))

  3. Pat F Chase says:

    The Ownens did not build many buildings. To disorganized. The Harmonite/Rappits built your first pictured house(with white clap board) These were timber framed and they built many of them, that were identical and were kind of massed produced. Don Blair discovered this and wrote about it in the 1950s. There are still several of these in town and most are privately owned, except the Fauntleroy House. They were originally built for the existing married couples. The single folks lived in the dorms. William McClure lived in the Farther Rapp house. McClure was part of the “Boat Load of Knowledge” they were Philadelphia enlighten scientist who floated down the Ohio to be part of Owen’s new social experiment. Robert Dale Owen wrote a diary about this. I have an electronic copy of this that I could send. McClure would do many things including establishing over 30 libraries around the mid-west, create what would become the National Geological Survey and contribute to what would become the Smithsonian.

    • Fascinating! There’s a wealth of history here to be sure. Not surprising that the Owenites weren’t very organized and the Rappites did most of the early building.

    • I don’t know if there were any other Harmony Society sects. But given the promise of religious freedom in the United States a lot of different sects were formed here, or people left other countries to come here to practice their religion as they wanted.

  4. kurt munger says:

    hah! I do the same thing on vacation, love to walk around and take pictures of interesting and beautiful homes, thanks for sharing!

  5. I hadn’t heard of any of this before. My husband is from Indiana, I wonder if he knows about it. The pictures are pretty amazing! As are all those houses

    • I think the farther north you grew up in IN, the less likely you are to know about NH. This town is tucked waaaaaaay in a little cranny in the state’s southwesternmost county.

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