My main camera on our trip to New Harmony was, as often happens, my little Canon PowerShot S95. I did take a film camera, my Olympus XA2, loaded with Ultrafine Xtreme 100. But it simply turned out not to be a black-and-white weekend. I shot but nine frames. In contrast, I made 175 photos with the S95.
This is New Harmony’s Main Street. It’s perpendicular to the road that you have to use to enter New Harmony, which is Church Street and also State Road 66.
We got a spectacular sunset that night. In the shadowy foreground is the Lenz House, built in about 1820. Read a little bit about it here. That page mentions the Harmonists, a group that tried and failed to build a utopian society here.
Here’s one photo I made with my iPhone 6s. We were walking back to the house we’d rented after dinner one night when a fellow invited us to a jam session. We were surprised that it involved mostly cellos and violins! A guitarist later joined.
I shared these two photos in my post about the Roofless Church.
A double log cabin — two cabins sharing a conjoining covered deck — provides this view. It’s on the same property as the Lenz house.
The Episcopalians had this place built, but it’s a place for all believers. Services are not held here on Sunday; you are invited to worship here or seek quiet contemplation whenever you like. Ater all, the sky above is the only roof large enough to cover all of God’s followers.
Designed by architect Philip Johnson and featuring a sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz under a shingled parabolic dome, The Roofless Church opened in 1960. You’ll find it in New Harmony, Indiana, on the town’s northernmost east-west street.
Someone I went to high school with is a professional photographer. One of her specialties is photographing impeccably decorated luxury homes for lifestyle magazines. I see some of her work on Instagram and it’s all so well done.
When Margaret and I visited New Harmony recently, we rented a circa-1840 cottage, a little nook for us to relax in. But when we arrived we were told that the cottage was out of order, and that we were upgraded to the Orchard House — two stories, four bedrooms, five bathrooms, all done up in period style. What an upgrade!
The house is a little rough around the edges — it could use a little TLC. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying this giant house to the hilt. It made for a truly lovely stay for us. Here’s the view when you step inside.
My old high-school friend surely has expensive and expansive pro gear for her work. I had only my trusty Canon PowerShot S95 and available light. But through looking at her work I gleaned a couple key tips for appealing interior photography. First, go wide to get more in, but not too wide or everything will distort. I shot at 28mm for a commanding view. This is the parlor.
Second, crouch down for a child’s-eye view of the room, so that vertical lines are vertical. Doing this also captures some details up high that you’d otherwise miss, like the canopy over this bed in the east upstairs bedroom.
I’m sure my friend could give me twenty more pointers to improve these photos, but I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Here’s my entire gallery. Click the < and > buttons to see all the photos, inside and out.
Bonus: If you flipped through the gallery you saw the strange sink in the west upper bedroom. We’d never seen a sink that worked this way before! It has separate hot and cold taps with little holes in the porcelain where the water comes out, one set for hot and one set for cold. Here’s the cold tap in action:
New Harmony is a small village in Indiana’s southwesternmost county, right on the Wabash River. It’s surprisingly remote. You won’t pass through it on your way to anywhere else — especially since the bridge to Illinois was closed.
Opened in 1930, the Harmony Way Bridge was built by a private concern and later managed, by no less than a 1941 act of Congress, by the White County (Illinois) Bridge Commission, to which three commissioners were appointed. Inexplicably, in 1998 Congress repealed part of that act that provided a mechanism for appointing commissioners. When the last commissioner resigned or died, there would be nobody to manage the bridge.
I got to drive over this bridge once each way, in 2006, when I took my sons on a Spring Break tour of interesting and historic Indiana sites. We meant to spend a day in New Harmony, which has a fascinating history, but it rained hard when we got there with no end in sight. We drove around New Harmony in a few minutes. I decided we’d see if anything interesting was on the Illinois side of the Wabash. Naught but farm fields, for miles.
It cost two dollars to find that out — this was a toll bridge, a dollar each way. The funds paid for regular operations with a little left over. But bridge maintenance costs serious money, and over time serious structural problems formed that the bridge commission couldn’t afford to fix. Indiana and Illinois officials closed the bridge permanently in May of 2012.
The bridge carried about 900 vehicles a day, mostly farm vehicles and vehicles related to the farm service industry, plus some Illinois residents who worked in nearby Evansville, Indiana. Today to reach New Harmony from Illinois you have to drive up to Interstate 64 and then 14 miles down to this little town, or down to a bridge just west of the town of Mt. Vernon and then 22 miles back up.
The Welcome to Indiana sign by the closed bridge sure seems superfluous.
Some efforts have been made to reopen the bridge, but so far none have succeeded. While we visited New Harmony we saw posters for a proposal to reopen it for pedestrian use and as an outdoor event center. But the Federal law governing the bridge blocks action. The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 6793 (text here) repealing the 1941 act, creating the New Harmony Bridge Bi-State Commission, and transferring control of the bridge to the new commission. Here’s hoping the Senate takes it up and passes it as well.
I’ve been writing about New Harmony all week — but for those of you here just for the doors, it’s a historic town in the southwestern tip of Indiana. Its founders tried, and failed, to build a utopian society here. Today it’s both a typical small Indiana town and something of an artist’s colony. It makes for a lovely long weekend, as my wife and I found out recently. And now, herewith the doors of New Harmony.
Margaret and I try very hard to get away four times a year for a three-day weekend, just the two of us. The concentrated us time really does our marriage good.
Chicago had become our default destination when we decided to mix things up a little. Our last trip, to Bardstown, Kentucky, showed us that small-town outings could be just as fun and much more relaxing.
I’ve always wanted to visit New Harmony, population about 700, in the southwesternmost county in Indiana. I tried once before, on an epic 2007 Spring Break tour with my sons of historic and scenic Indiana places. But it poured down rain the whole time. We drove around the town but never got out of the car.
New Harmony has a fascinating history. Twice in the early 1800s, groups tried to build utopian societies here, one religious and one not. Some of their buildings still stand. We didn’t dig into that during our stay — we wanted to experience New Harmony as it is now and just have a nice time. If you’re interested, this article tells the story in compact form.
A nice time we did have in New Harmony. We rented an 1840s cottage but due to something there being out of order found ourselves upgraded to an enormous four-bedroom house built in about 1860. I’ll share photos of this lovely home in an upcoming post. Renting a house let us bring food with us to make our breakfast and lunch, which let us save a little money, eat more healthfully, and relax through our mornings.
We brought our bikes with us and rode all over this little town, and then halfway through the trip decided it was no trouble really to walk anywhere we wanted to go. We serendipitously enjoyed live music two nights and met many interesting people, some from New Harmony and others visitors just like us.
The only things we wished were different about our trip related to restaurants. Only one restaurant is open in town on Sunday night, and it’s the town’s nicest and most expensive place; we really wanted a light bite in a cozy nook. We also wished menus more easily accommodated our various dietary issues, as we’re used to in the big city.