Ox Yoke Inn

ox yoke inn exterior
Exterior of the Ox Yoke Inn in Amana, Iowa

Photo courtesy of Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau

Quick Facts

Location:
4420 220th Trail, Amana IA
Significance:
Former kitchen house
Designation:
National Historic Landmark
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Yes

The Ox Yoke Inn occupies a former communal kitchen house that was built in 1856. The Hertel Küche (kitchen) operated from 1856 until 1932, at which time Theodore Hertel bought the building from the Amana Society during the Reorganization. When the "Great Change" occurred many members bought the places in which they were living from the Society. This privatization marked an end to the Colonies’ communal life.

 

The "Great Change" began in March of 1931. The Amana Society’s financial situation was continuing to worsen, and residents of the Colonies’ voted to reorganized into separate divisions - the Amana Church Society and the secular Amana Society. The Church Society was in charge of the spiritual and charitable affairs of the community, while the secular Society operated for monetary profit. By 1932 this change was complete. Although accounts vary, the Great Change of the Amana Society occurred as a response to: growing secularization; a desire for individualism and personal choice; inefficiency and duplication within the society workforce; increased outside visitation due to the popularity of the automobile; and the Depression.

 

The Amana villages had over 50 kitchen houses throughout the communal period. In exterior appearances these buildings resembled other residential dwellings, except for an extension to the side. The kitchens occupied the extension, while the kitchen boss lived in the main part of the house. Several nearby homes were assigned to one kitchen house, and those families received their meals from the Community Kitchen. No one prepared individual family meals in the Amana Colonies, although most families did begin to take their meals home to eat in the last years of the communal period

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The Leichsenrings opened the Ox Yoke Inn in 1940, in the building just to the west of its present location. They moved shortly after that to the former Hertel Küche and have added onto the building over the years.

Last updated: December 18, 2017