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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

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[photo]
South Amana corn crib, horse barn, and ox barn - the Barn Museum is pictured in the center; the Agricultural Museum is pictured on the right
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Located in two restored barns from Amana's communal period, the Barn Museum and the neighboring Communal Agriculture Museum contain exhibits that reflect Amana's agricultural heritage. The Communal Agriculture Museum, which was once an ox barn or Ochsentall contains antique agricultural implements used on Amana's communal farms as well as photographs depicting the role of agriculture in communal Amana. It also contains a large colorful map of the Amana Society's land and farming boundaries. The Communal Agriculture Museum is operated by the Amana Heritage Society.

What was once a Gaustall (horse barn) is now the Barn Museum. This museum features the miniature woodcrafting of Henry Moore and is the largest known collection of miniatures made by one man. In the scale of one inch to the foot, Henry Moore built a unique world with dozens of buildings of both regional and national historic significance.

Amana barns show strong German and American influence. A number of these barns were built as banked barns, built into a gentle slope with a one-story stone foundation, which took geographic advantage of the rolling topography of the Amanas. A functional forebay offering the protection of one wall and one roof was also a popular feature of many Amana barns. Built of wood and left unpainted, barns, like frame houses, weathered into a light gray color. The agricultural buildings, grouped together at one edge of the village, as are these barns at the edge of South Amana, were dominant visual characteristics of the Amana villages and stood in sharp contrast to the typical family farm which characterized the rest of Iowa during Amana's communal era. Farming techniques have greatly changed since the communal era, when oxen were still used on the farms as late as 1932. Today, farming remains the Amana Society's biggest business, with corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa crops, and Gelbvieh, Angus, and Charolais cattle raised in the Amana countryside.

The Communal Agriculture Museum is located at 505 P St., South Amana. It is operated by the Amana Heritage Society and is open 10:00am to 5:00pm, Monday - Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday, May - September. There is a fee, call 319-622-3567 for further information. The Barn Museum, just west of the Communal Agriculture Museum, is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, April - October, there is a fee for admission, call 319-622-3058.

 

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