Harmonist Church, Old Economy Village

Still an active church, now as a Lutheran congregation, which would have annoyed George Rapp to no end, since he escaped from Lutheran persecution in Germany. This church was probably designed by George Rapp himself; it was built with bricks made by the Harmonists on site, and it was finished in 1831. The clock tower is delightful and distinctive, but the clock has stopped.

Advertisements

Old Economy Village

The Harmony Society was founded by George Rapp, a German peasant who declared himself a prophet. The Harmonists were persecuted by Lutherans in Württemberg as threats to social order, so Rapp led his followers to America, where they soon proved that they were actually quite good at social order. They settled first in Harmony, and then moved for ten years to New Harmony in Indiana. In 1824, they ended up in Economy, now the northern end of Ambridge. In each settlement, they lived comfortable and virtuous lives, and—perhaps more admirable in American citizens—they made good money in business. They prized celibacy as a superior state, however, and the community eventually withered away.

Old Economy Village is something like the Williamsburg of Western Pennsylvania. The streets are full of simple and well-built brick houses, the smell of boxwood is in the air, and there is a notable absence of ugly overhead wires.

The George Rapp house. The Harmonists were a society of equals, but George Rapp was considerably more equal than the others.

The cemetery. There are no gravestones in a Harmonist graveyard; such ostentation is unnecessary, since Christ will know his own.