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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] Upper South Amana Communal Kitchen
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Upper South Amana Communal Kitchen, now an apartment building
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Throughout the communal period the Amana villages had over 50 kitchen houses. In exterior appearance these buildings resembled other residential dwellings except for an extension to the side. The kitchens were in this wing; the kitchen boss lived in the main part of the house. Most cellars were used for potato and vegetable storage and to keep milk and other products cool. The extensions also contained the communal dining room. Several nearby homes were assigned to one kitchen house. All of the families living in these homes received their meals from the community kitchen. No one prepared individual family meals in the communal Amana Colonies although most families did begin to take their meals home to eat in the last years of the communal period.

Each kitchen house had a kitchen boss who supervised the neighborhood women who were assigned to cook, garden, serve, and clean on a rotating schedule. The kitchens contained large brick stoves with an iron top as well as troughs for running water. The village butcher made deliveries of meat products, the baker brought bread, the cow barn supplied milk, and flour and sugar came from the general store. Each kitchen had a nearby garden where vegetables were grown. Chicken houses, usually of unpainted wood and often constructed with a shed-roof, were nearby; although a brick chicken house survives in South Amana. Some kitchens had small sheds where the women could store their garden tools.

The Upper South Amana Communal Kitchen is located at 27 220th Trail, in Upper South Amana. It is now an apartment building and not open to the public.


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