Saturday, August 20, 2011

THE EPHRATA CLOISTER

Since I have been running out of places to Post about around here that have Historical value to them, I decided to make a small trip down into Lancaster County, where the Ephrata Cloister is located.  In the past number of years, I have passed by this place and always wondered just what was in there.  However, visiting this place was second on my list.  I had really wanted to see "Wheatland", the home of President James Buchanan, but never got there.  My GPS did not list the street that is was on.  Would have been running all over the place with no real idea where it was.  The Historic Town of Lancaster is a busy place.  Would have wasted allot of time trying to find it.

Entrance to the Ephrata Cloister.

IMAGINE -

Just for a moment - that several decades of warfare has left your Life in turmoil.  You are in debt and many around you are homeless and starving to death.  Your own Faith is under attack from the goverment.   This is what started the Ephrata Cloister Complex.

A person named Conrad Beissel started this whole religious complex back in 1732.  His desire for a quiet home free from distractions allowed him to continue on his spiritual pilgrimage to join God in Heaven.  Many others, like him and wanting the same as he did, soon followed along.  By the year of 1750 the Community numbered nearly 80 people.  The Brothers & Sisters, as they were known, all lived together worshiping God in seperate homes.  Today, only a fraction of the Ephrata Cloister's eighteenth century buildings & heritage survive.  However, the German Seventh-day Baptist Church still survives at places to this day.  This Complex is where the town of Ephrata and the surrounding area got it's start.  It reminded me of the Amish & Mennonite people that live in this area.

  Constructed in 1741 this was the Main Building or what was called "The Saal" (Meeting House)  This building was the main area that consisted of area's for worship, reading, drawing, and also housed another Chapel for daily meditation.  The only way you can enter this huge building is by special Tour that is offered.  Just didn't want to take that time.  I did look into the windows and found lots of chairs, tables, cross's, and books that were probably used back in that time.  All of the people that once lived here dressed in a "simple manner."  Just a plain dress or pants & shoes that were white in color.  Known for it's "purity."  Again, almost like the Amish & Mennonite people of today.

The Bake House where candles were made, soap making, and the regular routine of doing the laundry.

One of the House's where the Brothers lived.

The Carpenter's House.  Notice the well in the front where water was drawn for daily use.

The Stable House.  I looked inside each one of these old places and found that the people back in those day's were much smaller than we are today.  I stand 6'5" tall, and had to duck my head each time I went into a building.  To be exact, I banged my head on 2 occasions!  I then started to remember to duck when going inside.

This was what was called "The Academy".  It is where all the schooling for children was held.  Most of the subjects taught here were focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic.  The "out house" stands in the foreground.  There was no indoor plumbing back in those days.

A look inside one of the Homes.  All the cooking was done over an open fire.  There was no electric lights, no air conditioning, or any of the modern features we all have.  Everything was done by candle light.  They all led a very simple life.

The Printing Office.  There was also a Clock making area located off to the left of this building.

The back of the Bakery.

Another view of the Main House.  The small structure off to the right was a small oven called "The Saron Bake Oven."  It was built around 1820.

A composite of just some of the original buildings.

I did sort of enjoy walking around this old religious place that has been here since the 1700's.  I did not take the offered walking Tour that is narrated by a Guide.  I prefer to "snoop around" reading the brochure as I go along.  I can learn on my own, which I normally do.  I'm not really fond of walking around with other visitors, since they can hold you up when you want to move on to something else that you see.  Also, I'm not really a very religious person, but it was interesting on just how people back from those day's lived in harmony with their belief.

Until the next time  .  .  .  .  Thanks for reading & commenting.
Les

8 comments:

  1. You brought back memories that I had totally forgotten about!! Bob and I visited this site back in the early 80's with our kids and friends that live in Lancaster. We did take the tour and it was quite interesting. The furniture was super simple. Just chairs, boards for beds, small tables, lanterns, lots of lanterns. It was a very simple life, even more so than the Amish if I can remember correctly...however...being 63, I might have forgotten a bit!! lol Great post!!...debbie

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  2. I would love to visit this place. It has a great history and your photos are outstanding.

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  3. Great captures! I wish that I would have gotten around to seeing this place while I live in Pennsylvania.

    Thanks for the very nice comment!

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  4. This is a very first for me to hear of this site. It is a wonderful tour for us to see. I will have to look into it more as I am a history buff that can't get enough new info. Great photos.

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  5. What an interesting place! I had never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Looks like an interesting place to visit! Nice stroll around the grounds with you.

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  7. I was here once when I went to visit friends in Denver, Pa. I really enjoy it. Enjoy yours pictures.
    Sincerely,
    Marilyn

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  8. We're glad you enjoyed your visit to the Ephrata Cloister. The Brothers and Sisters of Ephrata were known for their architecture, Frakturschriften (a form of calligraphy), printing operations and music (they wrote over 1000 hymns). We offer sepcial programs throughout the year. Be sure to check out our web site for dates and times of special programs at www.ephratacloister.org

    Director,
    Ephrata Cloister

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