The town of Harmony or Harmonie, as it was originally named, was established in 1804 by a communal group known as the Harmony Society or Harmonites. The Harmonites lived here for ten years and sold the town to Mennonites before moving on to Indiana in 1815.
I have always enjoyed visiting Harmony so let's take a tour. Along the town square is the Harmony Museum. It was built by the Harmonites in 1809 and has an amazing vaulted wine cellar in the basement. It's closed on Mondays so we couldn't go inside on this visit.
In the center of the town square are two war memorials shaped like keystones, which is the symbol for Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State. There are no traffic lights in Harmony since stop signs are enough to keep the traffic flowing. To the right you see Sapienza's Market (white building) on the corner. It's for sale now but when I first began visiting here it was still a busy grocery market. The yellow building is the old bakery, also built by the Harmonites.
The building is still a bakery.
Also along the square is the Ziegler cabin. The Zieglers were Mennonites who bought the town from the Harmonites in 1815, and this cabin was built in 1819.
The Bottlebrush Shop on the town square features work by local artists
An historic house near the town square.
From the town square looking down Mercer Street some original Harmonite buildings can be seen along with buildings of various vintages, but mainly from the 1800s. The hill in the distance is Vineyard Hill, which we'll tour later.
Walking down Mercer Street we see quite a few historic buildings. The original Harmonite buildings are plain but very well built.
This more ornate building is of later vintage.
Down near the end of Mercer Street stands the old Harmony Opera House where my brother-in-law had his antique shop for a while. There's a coffee shop and boutique on the lower level. The opera stage and seating area is the entire second floor, and was quite ornate in its time. It was on the tour circuit for many important opera companies in the early 1900s because a train stop is nearby.
The old stable for the Opera House is now a sandwich shop.
Note the slate roof is very old as shown by the wear and the large size of the tiles.
Across the street from the Opera House the Shever Brothers Hardware building looks like a film set, but has lately become more like a version of a suburban strip mall.
Looking back up Mercer Street toward the town square from the Opera House.
This Italianate house was built as a private home for a railroad executive and businessman in 1852. The railroad stop was just down the street a block. For many years the Harmony Inn was a boarding house and now a restaurant popular with locals.
Four log cabins were moved into town from surrounding farms.
One of Harmony's most iconic buildings is Knauf's Feed Mill on Spring Street at German Street. When I first visited Knauf's Mill it was still in operation and the porch was stacked high with feed and items for local farmers.
Like other buildings in town it is awaiting a new use.
Across the bridge at the end of Mercer Street is Vineyard Hill. George Rapp was the leader of the colony and used to sit on top of this hill on a unique "seat" to observe work going on in the community below.
At one point the tree roots are also steps.
Approaching Father Rapp's seat, which is a natural outcropping of rocks at the top of Vineyard Hill.
Father Rapp's Seat is down under the outcropping.
Father Rapp's seat carved into the stone hillside on Vineyard Hill overlooking the town of Harmony.
Views of Harmony across the Connequenessing Creek from above Father Rapp's Seat. The land was used to grow grapes in the 1800s so the view was less obstructed without the current trees.
During our trip I was often amazed at the size of the creeks. Creeks in San Antonio are often dry unless it is raining and rivers are the size of this creek.
The most unusual sight in town is the Harmonite Cemetery on a hill overlooking Harmony. From Mercer Street the cemetery is past Knauf's Mill.
Amazing stonework with a gate made of stone tablets balanced on ironwork that has stood here for more than 200 years. The gate represents the Mosaic Tablets of the Ten Commandments. The gate weighs over a ton but can be pushed open with one finger. Note Knauf's mill in the background.
The carving over the gate has weathered so a sign gives you the text in German along with an English translation.
The heavy stone gate is easy to open because it is balanced on iron pins.
The 200 year old iron pins which balance the gate shown top and bottom (R) the gate latch is on the left.
Neal demonstrates just how easy it is to close the stone gate.
Did you notice the most unusual and surprising sight? No headstones in this cemetery.
The Harmonites did not believe in marked graves. There are 100 members of the society buried here during 1805 - 1815.
Only one marker was ever placed, that for the son of the founder of the Harmonites.
Looking back at the gate from inside the walls.
These stone finials are placed atop the walls surrounding the cemetery.
A look back up the hill from the road.
Imagine my first visit years ago when I saw this little town of less than 1,000 people and so different from my own hometown of Houston which is nearing the 7 million mark in population! Harmony is a town somewhat like its founders, a place stuck in time. It is quaint, but also not reconstucted like some of the more popular historic destination towns. In that way it is an unusual place and, while a few folks drive out from Pittsburgh now and then, appears to be waiting its turn to be "found".