Ambridge Travel Guide

  • Old Grape Vine
    Old Grape Vine
    by VeronicaG
  • Entrance to the Visitor Center
    Entrance to the Visitor Center
    by mtncorg
  • Picture of Okonomie/Economy from 19th century
    Picture of Okonomie/Economy from 19th...
    by mtncorg

Ambridge Things to Do

  • MECHANIC’S BUILDING

    This building held several Harmonist shops: Tailor shop, Hat shop, Shoemaker Shop and Print Shop. Through the side door, a wide stairway led below to a huge wine cellar - over 20 feet high in the center - which contained huge barrels within which fermented the commune’s wine stores. Wine was an important factor in the Society - George Rapp had...

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  • Stop By The Visitor's Center

    The Visitor's Center is where you purchase your ticket to enter Old Economy's museum and grounds. It's located on 16th street, a few blocks down from the entrance to the historic site.You'll find a museum detailing the history of the Harmonists, introducing visitors to their religious and communal lifestyle. It contains samples of their woven...

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  • Feeding the Many--The Feast Hall

    Feasts signaling religious holidays were held in this hall several times a year. Events known as love feasts were also held after members confessed their differences in front of Father Rapp. If they followed the same practice as other 'pietistic groups' of the day the individuals would kiss each other on the cheek afterwards. A gathering in honor...

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  • The George Rapp Garden and Pavilion

    Father Rapp's ornamental gardens were designed to resemble those of Wurttemberg's nobility. Meandering paths, a raised area for grapevines, a stone grotto for meditation and a large pavilion with a statue of Harmony* in the center, topped by a copper dome helped to create a lovely place for a walk about.According to a booklet I purchased from the...

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  • Visiting a Harmonist Home

    This is the home of R.L. Baker, a storekeeper from the Society who eventually became trustee for the group once Father Rapp died.It's a good example of a typical German style home which features a central chimney. In Economy, there would have been five people sharing a home. If the number fell below three, households were combined. The women slept...

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  • Old Log House

    This old log house stands on a side street near the village and reflects the early building style of the community. Most of Pittsburgh's residents lived in log homes at this time.Note the irregular planking with chinking* between each one. As the village of Economy grew, more and more brick homes appeared, affording members a luxury that most...

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  • The Natural History Museum

    Beneath the Feast Hall on the ground floor was the Natural History Museum. It contained preserved native specimens like a huge elk and hulking black bear, as well as, several local bird species. The public was welcomed to the museum in 1827.The society's first doctor, Johannes Christoph Mueller, compiled the museum. He was a real Renaissance man,...

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  • The Wine Cellar

    Each Harmonist settlement had a wine cellar, Old Economy had the largest of these. George Rapp had been schooled as a vintner, so this knowledge benefitted the Society.The person designated as the housekeeper could come to the wine cellar to receive enough wine for the family. The group sold their wine, beer, hard cider and whiskey retail. The...

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  • The Rapp House--Old Economy Village

    The largest home in Economy was that of George Rapp, constructed in 1826. It was a two story home with wings on either side and a hipped roof, similar to those found in his hometown of Wurttemberg.Another home erected for Frederick Rapp, adopted son of George R, sat next door and was connected to Father Rapp's home by a common porch. In time, the...

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  • The Harmonist Church

    The Harmonist Church was erected in 1832. Churches of this period were usually positioned with the exterior facing east. Unusual for the time, their services were conducted at the south end of the building.Father Rapp preached from a raised platform. It was customary for men to sit to his right and women to sit to his left on pews that remain to...

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  • The Granary or Fructhaus

    The Granary stored a year's supply of grain for the Harmonists. It's a larger version of a Wurttemberg barn, several stories high and of traditional half timber and frame construction.Goods were stored on the first floor and grain on the additional floors. The ground level floor was also used to bottle wine.The building was placed in a north-south...

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  • Economy's Shopping District

    Some of the shops providing merchandise to the society or for trade or purchase by those living outside the community were located here. Our informative guide escorted us through some of the buildings, while others with their outbuildings could be accessed by general tour of the historic area. White picket fences, trellised grapevines scaling the...

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  • The Harmonist Store and Post Office

    The Harmonist Store carried goods produced by the Society for distribution to its members* or for sale to the community beyond. R.L. Baker was the storekeeper overseeing the sale of woolen and cotton goods, wine and other products made by members. Farmers from the outside would bring their wool to the Harmonists, then receive credit in order to...

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  • HISTORIC DISTRICT OUTSIDE

    There are still many surviving buildings from the Harmonist period outside of the Old Economy Village that you can wander past. The district surrounding the Visitor Center consists of a grid pattern of eight streets within which there are over 90 Harmonist buildings - most being houses that are still lived in. Built of brick or wood siding, the...

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  • GRANARY

    This is the only surviving of two such buildings which were used to house one year’s supply of grain to be used by the Harmonists when Christ returned to Earth. This could be a tie to the modern Mormon tradition of families maintaining a year’s supply of food within their homes - there are a few other ties between the Harmonists and subsequent...

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  • CENTRAL GARDEN

    The central garden - larger then than now - was a place for meditation for the community members. In the center there is the Pavilion which, built in 1831, is attributed to a classical design from Frederick Rapp. Within the Pavilion, the wood-sculpted female figure of Economy plays a lyre. She represents the spiritual harmony the Society hoped to...

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  • FREDERICK RAPP HOUSE

    About 1828, another large house was added to the rear of the Great House for Frederick Rapp, the adopted son of George Rapp - George’s natural son, Johannes, had died in 1812 in Harmony. Where George was the mystic and spiritual leader for the Harmonists, it was under Frederick’s direction that the various Harmonist industries flourished during...

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  • GREAT HOUSE

    Built in 1826 for Society leader George Rapp, it was here where Rapp entertained visitors. On tour, you visit the various rooms of the house and can get a better idea of Rapp, his family and his closest associates. Most of the furnishings come from the Economy time period.

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  • FEAST HALL

    Built in 1827, the Feast Hall served as the main meeting hall for the Harmonists and it was on the second floor where all gathered together, at least six times a year, for anniversaries, love feasts and other combined services. The first floor was divided into classrooms, a library and even a museum.

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  • ST JOHN’S LUTHERAN CHURCH

    Built as the main church for the Harmonist Society in 1838, the church was purchased in 1919 by the present Lutheran congregation. The church is not generally open except when in use. Architecturally, many design themes are similar to other communal churches that I have seen pictures of such as the Keilite churches in both Bethel, Missouri and...

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  • OLD ECONOMY VISITOR CENTER

    Any visit to the Old Economy Village begins at the Visitor Center located a couple blocks away from the main sites. The building’s architecture is such to mimic that found within the Village, complete with espaliered grape vines along the walls - the Harmonist espaliered grape vines along the south walls of buildings to increase the heat and sun...

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Ambridge Restaurants

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    K & N: Good Home Cookin'

    by VeronicaG Updated Nov 22, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We had time before our guided tour began, so we asked for a recommendation for lunch. One of the docents suggested K&N, which was located a few blocks away.

    K&N is an unassuming little local eatery where a limited number of booths line up on one side of the room and counter service fills the other side. A list of specials and items from the menu were scratched out on colored posterboard, but menus were also given when seated.

    Mom and I were in the mood for breakfast, so we ordered two eggs sunny side up with crisp bacon and an English muffin totaling a little over $10 for both--we had water as our beverage.

    We were tempted to order hotcakes, which came in three flavors: chocolate chip, blueberry and cinnamon ($3.95). Omelets were also served up, with an everything omelet costing $7.25.

    For heartier fare, Beef Stroganoff ($7.25) and BBQ Pork ($5.95) might be a good choice for dinner. Dessert choices might be Apple Walnut Pie, Very Berry Pie, Peach Praline Pie, Carrot Cake or Chocolate Cake.

    We were in and out in plenty of time for our tour and it was nice to help Ambridge's struggling economy in some small way!

    K&N
    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Singles
    • Family Travel

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Ambridge Local Customs

  • When Finances Become Troubled

    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,...

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  • A Sousa Band--NOT!

    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...

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  • The Common Ovens

    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...

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