Anyone who learned Indiana history in grade school surely learned one thing about New Harmony. That was enough to pique the curiosity of a school child, but as the years passed Ive often wondered about this Utopian society with such a fitting name - New Harmony. Are there still signs of its utopian heritage today?I was again reminded of New Harmony in the book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, by John Villani, which lists only two Indiana towns, Columbus and New Harmony.
They soon outgrew Harmonie, and also wanted a better climate for grape production.They bought 20,000 acres on the banks of the Wabash River, and moved west.Bruder (Brother) Haus was built in 1822 and was one of the major communal buildings, housing 40-60 people.Now called Community House #2, visitors can see this example of Harmonist construction, which used heavy timber framing and Dutch biscuits, or mud-plastered, straw-wrapped boards which were used between floors.In fact, several natural scientists arrived in a boat called The Philanthropist, often referred to as the Boatload of Knowledge.
Robert Owens oldest son, Robert Dale Owen, stayed in New Harmonie after his father moved to Britain. During his term Owen sponsored a bill that established The Smithsonian Institute. He completed a survey of 12 Midwestern states, mapping out all of the mineral resources, thus opening the door to the Midwests industrial development. The New Harmony Workingmens Institute was founded in 1838 to promote self-instruction and learning, especially for working men.
Father George Rapp led a group of 800 German Lutheran immigrants from Wurttemburg, Germany. George Rapp felt the second coming of Christ was imminent, and people should be prepared.
As a dissident of the established church, he was persecuted and jailed, and finally left Germany in 1803.
Owens New Society was short-lived, dissolving after two years, but it had a profound impact on the world.
Geologist William Maclure had joined Owen in 1826, and this partnership attracted leading scientists and educators, making it an intellectual haven.
Today some of the Harmonists tools, dutch-biscuit molds, clothing, furniture, a horse-drawn carriage and other relics have been returned to New Harmony and can be seen in the Workingmens Institute, Community House #2, and other historic sites.