School at New Harmony, IN
Historic New Harmony
P.O. Box 579
New Harmony, IN 47631
New Harmony, a historic town on the Wabash River in Harmony Township, Posey County, Indiana, was the site of two early American utopian communities. The Harmonie Society, a group of German dissenters led by George Rapp, arrived in the United States in 1804, settling in Pennsylvania. 10 years later the Harmonists purchased 20,000 acres on the Wabash River, and moved to Indiana in 1814. The Harmonists believed that Christ’s second coming was imminent. They pursued Christian perfection through every aspect of their daily conduct, and created a highly ordered and productive community. Between 1814 and 1824 the Harmonists constructed more than 180 log, frame and brick structures. The community was entirely self-sufficient and produced a wide variety of goods that were traded as far away as New Orleans, Pittsburgh and even overseas. In 1824, George Rapp decided to sell New Harmony and return to Pennsylvania. He found a buyer in Robert Owen, a wealthy industrialist from Scotland. In 1825, with his business partner William Maclure, Owen purchased New Harmony outright, hoping to establish a model community where education and social equality would flourish. Maclure, a well-respected amateur geologist, attracted many important scholars to New Harmony, including naturalists, geologists, educators, and early feminists. Owen’s “Community of Equality,” had dissolved by 1827.
Community House Number 2 functioned as a community building for both the Harmonist and Owen-Maclure experiments. It was one of four dormitories built by the Harmonists to house single Harmonist members of the community who had not established families. The Harmonists referred to each dormitory as Bruder Haus. Number Two accommodated both men and women of the community. The first floor was used as general living quarters for 40 to 60 residents. The cooking, dining, and communal rooms were on the first floor as well. This three-story, brick dormitory for members was built in 1822 and was later used by the Owenites for community activities, including a school. Beginning in 1825 the dormitory building was used as a school functioning as the center of William Maclure’s educational experiments with Pestalozzian teaching methods. The history of education at New Harmony involves several teachers who were already well-established in their fields before they moved to New Harmony, largely through the efforts of William Maclure. These Pestalozzian educators included Marie Duclos Fretageot and Joseph Neef. By the time Maclure arrived in New Harmony he had already established the first Pestalozzian school in America. Fretageot and Neef had been Pestalozzian educators and school administrators at Maclure’s schools in Pennsylvania.