In 1855, the “Community of True Inspiration” a religious group looking for a place to settle, found the area now known as the Amana colonies and out of a need for religious freedom a colony of 7 villages was born.
From the beginning of this settlement, religion was foremost in the lives of the Amish who moved to this area and communal practices were a way of life. Religion has continued to be the basis of daily life in the Amana colonies even over 150 years later, with many aspects of life virtually unchanged from the time in which the first settlers came to the region.
Until the great Depression in the 1920’s began to shake the roots of this community putting its mark on the colonies and the people within, and finally in the early 1930’s when the communal life was abandoned, this group of colonies has been based on strict religious beliefs and community property.
In fact, at its peak, the community as a whole owned all property within the Amana colonies, and homes were assigned different families according to family size and need. Communal living extended to the workplace where work was “for the common good” and communal kitchens were the norm.
Though it has been 150 years since the area was first settled, merely walking the streets of these villages can bring to mind a simpler life and the persons who lived there. Even today schoolchildren are educated in the basic history of Amana, most of the information coming from this society.
The Amana Heritage society has worked long and hard to preserve the rich history of this region and has put long hours in the preservation of age-old craftsmanship and wares. In addition to their work preserving the actual buildings and homes in the area, The Historical Society oversees 5 museums scattered around the villages.
For one low price, visitors to the museum, can purchase a pass which allows them entrance to all 5 museums in the area. Groups are welcome to visit as well…though it is best to plan ahead and contact the society in advance to best plan out your group visits.
The Amana Historical Society is an ever-growing group of concerned individuals devoted to preserving the heritage of this area as well as sharing it with generations to come.
Visit them on 220th Street for more information on the society and look for my other reviews on the various museums. Amana is an area rich in tradition and this tradition is worth making a trip to see for yourself.