We were then treated to a tour of the Working Men’s Institute by Library Director Stephen Cochran. The working Men’s Institute is Indiana’s oldest public library but far from being a regular public library, it also contains a large archive collection and a museum and art gallery! The archive contains manuscripts from the Harmonist and Owen Communal societies as well as an extensive rare book collection. The museum is a fascinating space with a variety of collections gathered by early members of the Institute including natural history and Harmonist artefacts. Most of the collections are in their original display cabinets and it is intriguing to see how museum displays looked before ‘interpretation’ came about! The crocodile that had been taxidermied to stand on it’s rear legs was a highlight!
Our afternoon was spent in the company of local residents George and Peggy Rapp who took us for a drive around New Harmony in their golf cart- the best way of getting around New Harmony! We drove down to the banks of the Wabash River and saw some of the beautiful woodlands that surround New Harmony. We also visited the marble labyrinth and the Roofless Church- a Phillip Johnson designed landmark and interdenominational church. The Roofless Church is currently having its old wooden shingles replaced and the pictures show the beautiful contrast between the old and the new. George and Peggy were also kind enough to give us a tour of their house in New Harmony- one of the traditional houses that has been beautifully extended and modernised internally- and introduce us to two other local residents- Larry and Patricia Gosh. Their premises on Main Street are home to the New Harmony Antique Doll Shoppe and tea room, run by Pat. As well as hundreds of dolls and costumes, Pat has a huge and beautifully kept collection of Petersons magazine (a historic ladies fashion magazine with patterns) annuals dating from around 1830. However the biggest surprise was the rear of the premises where Larry keeps his 4 mint condition classic cars!
After another busy day we met with all the staff from Historic New Harmony for a final meal. Our day ended with an extra special evening visit to the roof of the Atheneum to see the stars! Our sincerest thanks go to all of those who made our trip to New Harmony so special and we hope to be able to return one day! Jane & Aynsley