The seven villages comprising the Amana Colonies, located on the prairie of east-central Iowa, are vibrant, historical communities. A German religious group settled the Amana Colonies in the 1850’s. The brick, stone and clapboard homes draw tourists back to a period from yesteryear. The colonies were placed on the National Historic Landmark list in 1965. The following four attractions are excellent stops to explore.
- Amana Community Church and Museum: The brick church was built in 1865. The original church contained living quarters for church members on either end of the meeting hall. Men entered the meeting hall through a set of doors located at one end of the hall, while females entered through doors located at the opposite end. The main meeting hall was furnished with wooden benches constructed from pine. Wine was often stored in the church cellar. The simple unadorned buildings were common place at the time for Community of True Inspiration Churches. Browse the website for museum schedule.
- American Heritage Museum: Writings printed by the Community of True Inspiration Church are displayed at the American Heritage Museum. Patrons may research genealogical records, view historical photographs and other resources. Visitors may purchase souvenirs and books at the museum’s gift shop. The Amana Heritage Society offers guided walking tours through the Amana Colonies and historic locations, originating from the museum. Further information is available online.
- Blacksmith Shop and Homestead: The owner of the Blacksmith and Repair Shop was a busy proprietor in this farming community. Each Amana Village was self sufficient with tradesmen to cater to the needs of the community. Shops in each village contained bakers, blacksmiths, tailors, wagon makers, general stores and other businesses required by people in the community. Check the website for a schedule of traditional blacksmith demonstrations.
- Communal Kitchen and Cooper Shop: The communal system of living continued in the Amana villages through 1932. Members of the community cooked and ate all meals at a communal kitchen. Visitors may reminisce about the living habits of the Community of True Inspiration Churches at the Communal Kitchen and Cooper Shop. Additional information concerning the historical location is available on the website.
(Photo courtesy of “The Colony Inn - Amana, Iowa,” by Waterloo Public Library at Flickr’s Creative Commons.)