How visitors reacted to the Harmonists' holy experiment:
settlement made more rapid advances in wealth and prosperity, than
any equal body of men in the world at any period of time, more, in
one year, than other parts of the United States ... have done in ten."
The town is a vacationer's dream and a researcher's paradise, with 12 early 19th century buildings and 20 from mid-19th century, a museum, library, gallery and a theater. The New Harmony Inn with its Conference Center, a unique assemblage of contemporary buildings within the context of the historic community, offers the comforts of city-living in a rural setting. Visitors from all over the world come to experience New Harmony's legacy of creative endeavor which has spanned more than 180 years. They discover a distinctive small town, where the simple wooden structures of the Harmonists, blend with modern architectural masterpieces on quiet tree-lined streets.
Historic restorations are not unusual, nor is community development. Why then, is this small town in southern Indiana of such importance? New Harmony has acted early to secure control in the public interest over substantial parts of its central Historic District. It is a village museum and preservation project, and it has been a center for culture and learning ever since its beginnings.
The town's unique history comes alive on guided tours offered to 15 historic sites. Some of these include period rooms and other exhibits relating to specific subjects. The guided tours begin at the Atheneum/Visitor Center.
The Harmony Society established a remarkably well-planned town on the Indiana Frontier. This deeply religious communitarian group had come from Württemberg, Germany to Pennsylvania in 1804 and relocated to the Indiana territory in 1814. In January 1825 they sold the entire town to Robert Owen of New Lanark, Scotland. By May all the Harmonists had departed for Pennsylvania, where they established their third and final settlement. Old Economy is today a National Historic Landmark village of 17 restored 1824-1830 structures and recreated 1824 gardens. 16,000 objects are exhibited there.
The Indiana years proved to be the golden decade of the Harmony society. Their industries prospered. Agricultural and manufactured products were marketed to major cities in the United States and abroad. New Harmony, with it manicured gardens and neat tree-lined street, was renowned for its beauty. The town was largely self-sufficient. There were 2000 acres of highly cultivated land, including a 15-acre vineyard and a 35-acre orchard of choice apple and pear tress. Four large brick dwellings, a steam engine, two large granaries, wool and cotton factories, a threshing machine, a 5-acre vegetable garden, and more than 126 family dwelling houses were carefully cataloged by the Harmonists in a final inventory of the town that was prepared prior to its sale to Robert Owen.
Robert Owen's ambition was to create a more perfect society through free education and the abolition of social classes and personal wealth. World-renowned scientists and educators settled in New Harmony. With the help of William Maclure, the Scottish geologist and businessman, they introduced vocation education, kindergarten and other educational reforms.
Harmony is also the site of the early headquarters of the U.S. Geological
Survey and provided the earliest geological and natural science collections
for the beginnings of the Smithsonian Institute. David Dale Owen turned
to geology under the influence of William Maclure. From 1830 until
1860 New Harmony was one of the most important training and research
centers for the study of geology in America. Historic New Harmony
is a Unified Program of the University of Southern Indiana and the
Division of Indiana State Museums & Historic Sites.