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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

[graphic] Lower South Hotel
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Lower South Hotel, now a bed and breakfast
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Originally a hotel for tourists before becoming a private residence, today the Lower South Hotel again provides lodging for visitors as one of South Amana's bed & breakfast establishments. The Amana Colonies have always been a popular tourist spot, even before the Reorganization of 1932. Visitors came to the Amana Colonies out of curiosity about the way of life here, as well as for their manufactured goods, such as woolen and calico products. The train, and later the automobile, greatly increased the number of visitors to the Amana Colonies. In order to accommodate the needs of travelers and visiting businessmen, who came to the Amana Colonies to do business, the Amana Society established several hotels, including this one in South Amana.

View of the trellises and nine-over-six windows, both typical architectural features throughout the Amana Colonies
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Because of the similarity of all Amana Colony buildings, hotels could be, and were, easily converted into residential dwellings. Such was the case with the Lower South Hotel after the Great Change. Both the wooden and brick portions of the building, like all Amana Colony dwellings, had a gable roof and nine-over-six windows. The only applied details to an Amana Colony dwelling were panel doors, featuring an Amana metal lock, and a return gable. Another exterior feature of many houses were trellises--simple wooden latticework nailed to houses as vine supports. The trellises usually extended from the ground to the first floor windows and protected the mortar of brick and stone houses from cracking caused by intruding vines and allowed moisture to evaporate from the building surface. In buildings such as the Lower South Hotel, visitors can still see the uniqueness that the seven villages in the Amana Colonies have to offer--a distinct and special place where a cultural group, over time, has modified its culture and institutions without losing its identity.

The Lower South Hotel is located at 410 P St., in South Amana. It is now a bed & breakfast, call 319-622-6479 for further information


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