Autumn in Amish Country Part Two: Ephrata Cloister

I realize that this post series is not for everyone who reads this little blog of mine, so if I’m boring you with all my vacation photos please feel free to skip out on these posts until I get back to my regularly scheduled DIYing.  But, if you’re like me and you love seeing the world from other’s points of view, then read on and hear all about the middle of our 2012 trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country and the Hamptons.  You can find Part One of the trip here:  Autumn in Amish Country

Ephrata Cloister and Pioneer Days

We ventured out of Intercourse for the middle part of our trip and took a side trip to the Ephrata Cloister on our way to Hershey.  Unfortunately we arrived on a day when they were not opened to the public for tours.  Instead we were greeted by this cute little squirrel poking his head out of the hole and telling us to take a gamble and sneak around the gate anyway.  So we did.

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And I’m so glad we did!  There was an elderly couple who also jumped the gate with us, so we didn’t as bad trespassing with a pair of white haired accomplices.  Plus it was a tiny wooden gate that was unlocked, so it was practically an open door anyway.      Ephrata Cloister and Pioneer Days-3

The Ephrata Cloister was built in the mid-1700’s by German people who came to America to start a Seventh Day Adventist commune.  The people who lived in the Cloister were expected to follow extremely strict rules including celibacy and Sabbath keeping, all while eating just one vegetarian meal per day and waking up in shifts to see if Jesus had arrived yet.  As you probably guessed just from reading that last sentence, it only took 80 years for all the celibate membership of Ephrata to die off, leaving the place to the married church members who were the “new generation”. And, not surprisingly, like most of the churches I’ve ever attended, they all got into a big fight over doctrine and what stuff belonged to whom, and wound up splitting apart and suing each other.  This landed the Cloister in the hands of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, which thankfully preserved the site and the legacy behind it minus all the religious drama. (source)

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The closer view of these buildings was simply AMAZING. The main buildings were huge, towering over the smaller outlying buildings.  I wish it had been open so we could have toured the interior rooms, but the outside was so peaceful on that cool, crisp autumn morning that it was just a perfect place to wander around and admire the architecture.   Since I’m a sucker for old historic buildings and weathered wood in that olive green color I was in big green building bliss.

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According to this Youtube video tour of the Ephrata Cloister architectural style it is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else in America. I would agree with that statement, because I’ve never seen any architecture quite like it.   The Small Bake House oven was like stepping back to a medieval time.

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And these windows breaking up the roofline of the building are gorgeous. 

Look at the shingles…

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…and this stacked stone.  Dreamy.

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The church was not quite as unique, but still beautiful!

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If you ever find yourself in Lancaster, Pennsylvania you gotta go see the Ephrata Cloister.  It was a place I will never forget.  I’m so glad it was recommend to us to visit this mystical place, because I probably would have never found it without someone telling us about it. 
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If you’d like to come along on a tour of our 2012 Pennsylvania Dutch Country Vacation, you can click any of the posts or photos below:

Autumn in Amish Country Part 1
Intercourse, PA Amish Country at Kitchen Kettle Village-50

Amish Country Vacation Part 2 (Ephrata Cloister):
Ephrata Cloister and Pioneer Days-3

Amish Country Vacation: Part 3 (Landis Valley and Hershey, PA)
Ephrata Cloister and Pioneer Days-18

Homemade Amish Soft Pretzel Recipe

Amish soft pretzel recipe

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Speak Your Mind



  1. What a beautiful place, it looks just magical!

  2. We live about 20 minutes outside of Lancaster and I am in love with our little slice of heaven here in Central, PA. I’m never leaving, ever. You did a beautiful job capturing the essence of Amish country.

  3. Diana Walters says:

    Just gorgeous! I was actually born in Hershey (I’m the sweetest thang to evah come outta thar) HA! I was raised here in Mobile ,Alabama and if I get that far North, it’s usually to see family in Maine. I would love to visit that whole area though. Thanks so much for sharing so much beauty!

  4. This is abslutely gorgeous. It is amazing and beautiful. I love it. We are looking for a vacation destination for next year and this looks very appealing. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m assuming you mean The Hamptons on the east end of Long Island, NY. 🙂 I grew up on eastern LI and my husband is from the Hamptons. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of it all. 🙂 Those photos from Ephrata are very pretty.

  6. Beth – how wonderful and beautiful! I’ll stop any day to check out old buildings….there is just something about the past, the lives lived, the craftsmanship, and the beauty that draws you in! Thank you for sharing! It was lovely!

  7. I would’ve jumped the gate….just like you….but then I would’ve looked for an open window… 🙂

  8. I’ve enjoyed your travelogue posts! In fact, am thinking I need to visit this area sometime soon (and Niagra Falls too).

  9. Wow. HOW have I not gone here yet?

  10. A classic. This place is a beauty in its timelessness and character borne of its history. What an amazing find you have here. The stacked stones are indeed dreamy and the workmanship wonderful. It would have been really nice if you were allowed inside to roam and take some pictures.



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