Bus Tour: 18th-Century Lancaster: Herr House, Longhouse, and Ephrata Cloister

bus tourDeparting from Souderton at 7:00 A.M., ride in comfort through scenic Lancaster farm country, as we visit some scenes of Mennonite/Anabaptist life in early Pennsylvania.

Our morning stop will be at the  home of immigrants Christian and Anna Herr, built in 1719, and beautifully restored today as a museum. Known as the Hans Herr House, it is named for Christian’s father who lived with him there and was a bishop in the Mennonite community. This is the oldest surviving building in Pennsylvania west of the Schuylkill River, and one of the oldest Mennonite homes in Pennsylvania. It was also used for worship by Mennonites of the early Pequea settlement.

At the same location, we will tour the Lancaster Longhouse, a replica of the homes built by native  people with whom immigrants interacted. The structure—a multi-family dwelling made of logs, saplings and tree bark—is 62 feet long,   modeled on remnants of a longhouse excavated in Lancaster County in 1969, and furnished by   contemporary Native American artisans. It tells the history of south-central Pennsylvania from a time when only Native Americans lived here (ca. 1570) to a time when its Native American population had virtually disappeared (ca. 1770). The Lancaster Longhouse is one of the only interactive outdoor exhibits of Native life in Pennsylvania and one of few similar buildings in the nation.

bus tour    bus tour

Lunch (included in the tour price) will be a substantial buffet at Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant. Enjoy a mouth-watering variety of fresh vegetables, “Grandma Smucker’s favorite meals” and other succulent entrees like broasted chicken, ham balls, baked fish, pork & sauerkraut, chicken pot pie, and shepherd’s pie, as well as soup, salad & bread, and dessert bars.

bus tourIn the afternoon, we’ll visit another important site of 18th-century Anabaptist life—the Ephrata Cloister, where German immigrants from various traditions, including Mennonite and Brethren, gathered in a communal utopian society, awaiting the second coming of Christ in monastic-style discipline. They built large and impressive structures and lived a peaceful life in what was then a remote wilderness, doing the work of daily life, practicing choral music and illuminated writing, and developing a printing press that rivaled those of Philadelphia. It was here that the Franconia Mennonites had their massive Martyr’s Mirror translated into German and printed in the years before the French and Indian War.

The tour will return to Souderton around 6:00 P.M.

The tour fee of $100 (MHEP members $95) is all-inclusive (coach service, admission to both sites, hot buffet lunch, and gratuity for the bus driver). Tour participants will board the Hagey Coach at the Hagey Transportation Center located at 210 Schoolhouse Road, Souderton (1½ miles east of Route 113).  The bus will depart on Saturday morning, May 20, at 7:00 A.M. with boarding at 6:45 A.M. Lunch will be at noon, so you may wish to pack a mid-morning snack. The tour will return to the Hagey terminal, and your automobile may remain parked in the fenced lot there. Deadline for registration is Thursday, May 11. Forrest Moyer will serve as the tour leader.