Ambridge Local Customs

  • The Common Oven
    The Common Oven
    by VeronicaG
  • Storing Money
    Storing Money
    by VeronicaG
  • The Stone Grotto for Meditation
    The Stone Grotto for Meditation
    by VeronicaG

Most Recent Local Customs in Ambridge

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    When Finances Become Troubled

    by VeronicaG Updated Nov 22, 2008

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    Storing Money

    Economy's communal concept involved returning one's financial property when a member left the Society. This caused quite a problem later when a shyster known as The Lion of Judah (Bernard Proli) professed to be the Messiah* bringing 'the schism' or a split in this peaceful village.

    When a large number of the members decided to move on with Proli, they demanded their money. The members were paid in installments from their account--when the last installment was unintentionally delayed there was rioting in the street and police had to be called in.

    As a result of this, Father Rapp decided to keep all assets close by and his chosen spot was his basement. This picture shows how money would be kept below--at one time this totaled over $500,000.00.

    *Mr. Proli's experiment lasted a very short time before he departed for Louisiana. Ex-members settled across the Ohio River establishing Phillipsburg, now Monaca.

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    A Sousa Band--NOT!

    by VeronicaG Updated Nov 21, 2008

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    The Music Room

    I included the music room as a representation of the performances given by the Economy Band for their religious community and in places such as Wheeling, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Harmonist member, John Duss, was the bandleader and one of the last trustees of the Society.

    Desks shown in the photo are all reproductions with the exception of the black desk in the far left, which is an original piece used by the Harmonists.

    Duss took the band on a national tour and is said to have thought of himself as another John Philip Sousa, a fact his critics disputed. Although concerts ended in 1903, the band continued until 1905 when Economy was disbanded.

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    The Common Ovens

    by VeronicaG Updated Nov 21, 2008

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    The Common Oven

    There is only one oven in Old Economy Village, but this was made for educational purposes and not used by the Harmonists. It sits near the Granary, a large white barn once holding grain for the members. If I remember correctly, there were originally 11 ovens throughout the village--one on every square.

    Members were given a time to make all the breads they needed on one day. It was to last them for the entire week. When we toured the Rapp house we passed through the kitchen, where an assortment of luscious looking breads were displayed (artificial, of course) demonstrating what they may have baked. I think the Harmonists ate well!

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    The Stone Grotto

    by VeronicaG Updated Nov 21, 2008

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    The Stone Grotto for Meditation

    As we walked through the garden area, our guide pointed out this small stone building. It has a rustic exterior, but inside sports a coffered ceiling with 'neoclassical decorations'.

    Father Rapp used this as a meditation hut. At one time there were two in the village. The stone grotto is placed in the tranquil setting of the garden, where the beauty of the flowers and greenery could be appreciated.

    We've visited Old Economy several times in the past. When the flowers are blooming, this patch of ground is a glorious place to be!

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Ambridge Local Customs

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