Where We Be
Amana's main street is a fun place to walk if you enjoy gift shops,
fudge and cheese shops, and quilting, furniture, and woolen shops
Amana Colonies, Iowa
With the long-term goal of seeing at least one
interesting sight in each state, we wondered
what we should check out in Iowa and settled
on the Amana Colonies. This colony of seven
villages was settled in the 1850s by persecuted
religious Germans known as Inspirationists.
They wanted to live a simple communal life not
based on money. They succeeded in this for
some 80 years but in 19
32 underwent a dramatic
transformation from communal to capitalist
living. Hearing about this sudden switch from
one economic system to another
from locals
who actually grew up in the Amana Colonies
was
one of the most interesting things about our
visit. Now, besides browsing through quaint
shops, you can bone up on your American
history at the Amana Heritage Museum and visit
two other historic attractions in nearby towns --
the Communal Kitchen and Cooper Shop in
Middle Amana and the Church Museum in
Homestead.
The Communal Kitchen is worth a stop in Middle Amana. It's
included as part of your admission to Amana Heritage Museum.
Robin tries her hand at washing dishes the old fashioned way. The wooden
floor is literally indented from so many feet standing upon this exact spot.
The Church Museum in Homestead gives you a sense
of the simplicity and austerity of life in the Amana Colonies
The woolens mill has the ultimate old-fashioned loom
with reel upon reel of material feeding into the design
The quilting store is chock-full of colorful patterns
The visitor center is located inside a restored corn crib
These neat little communities hearken back to a simpler time
The displays in the museum are intriguing, especially the ones that talk about
the "last communal kitchen meal" or the first experiences of owning private property
Amana Heritage Museum ($7 each) is the place to start if you want to learn the actual history
of the Amana Colonies. They offer an informative 20-minute video, and we got to chat with
an older gentleman who actually lived through the changes from communal to private living.
Buildings and yards are immaculate
The huge lily pond on the outskirts of Middle Amana is
completely covered with lilies -- you can't even see the water