New Harmony is a Southern Indiana Utopia
New Harmony is a tiny town with a big story. Although its population hovers around 900, this destination has plenty to offer Hoosiers looking for fun and relaxation.
A Harmonist History
New Harmony traces its roots to George Rapp, who came to America from Germany, says MeLissa Williams, visitor services coordinator for the Atheneum Visitor Center. Rapp settled in Pennsylvania and started a community called Harmony based on his views of religion and utopian society.
In 1814, the Harmonists moved to Indiana and began developing the New Harmony site. “They built over a hundred buildings in 10 years,” Williams says. The group also recruited new families and individuals to join their community.
The Harmonists returned to Pennsylvania after a decade. Entrepreneur Robert Owen purchased the town and spent two years working toward his own vision of a utopian society based on science and education.
While the utopian experiments ended many years ago, Williams believes their influence lingers today. “We’re very accepting people here,” she says.
Inspiring Public Spaces
New to New Harmony? Start at the Atheneum, recommends Jim Spann, president of New Harmony Soap Company and vice president of New Harmony Business Associates. In this white ultramodern building, tourists can see a video about the town’s history and familiarize themselves with the surrounding area. The center also serves as a base for tours of more than 20 historic sites, Williams says.
Visitors can also view New Harmony’s iconic Roofless Church and explore its two labyrinths. Labyrinths may look like mazes, but they function very differently.
“A labyrinth doesn’t get you lost,” Spann explains. “There’s one way to enter, and there’s one way to exit.” Visitors start on the outside and follow a path to the labyrinth’s center.
Art lovers should schedule a stop at the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art. The facility’s displays rotate, so you may get the chance to see a different show on your next visit.
For outdoor adventures, head to Harmonie State Park, located along the Wabash River. Or, let the kids burn off steam on the aptly named “Playtopia” playground at Murphy Park.
From Lotion to Lager
“You will not see a chain store in this town,” Williams says. Instead, New Harmony offers a number of one-of-a-kind shopping and dining destinations. New Harmony Soap Company, for example, sells natural soaps and body care products with an emphasis on skin nutrition, Spann says. Its unique line of Indiana wine soaps features scents like Reggae Red Wine and Mimosa Champagne.
Serious shoppers will also want to pay a visit to The Mews, which Spann calls “the big one.” Merchandise includes home furnishings, artwork, antiques, women’s clothing and more.
Once you’re ready for a snack, Spann recommends Bliss Artisan’s homemade ice cream. For a drink with plenty of history, consider stopping in at Sara’s Harmony Way to sample her Harmonist Lager, brewed from a recipe brought to the U.S. from Germany nearly 200 years ago.
Ready to Book?
For more information about New Harmony’s events and attractions, go to visitnewharmony.com.
As you plan your itinerary, be sure to leave a little space to simply soak in New Harmony’s soothing ambiance. Williams encourages visitors to “just take time to walk and breathe, and enjoy their surroundings.”