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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of all the other older houses in New Harmony this one’s facade appeals to me most. I love its porch!
Many of the older homes are typical of other Indiana places.
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.
I couldn’t tell you the first thing about this house’s architectural style, but it sure has lots of interesting details.
Finally, a Federal style house.
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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Last updated on 15 February 2020 by Jim Grey