One of the most popular places for history buffs in Beaver County is the Old Economy Village located in Beaver County. This National Historic Landmark generates many comparisons to Colonial Williamsburg as it attempts to tell the story of the religious society that lived here during the nineteenth century.
Visitors to Old Economy Village are able to explore seventeen fully restored buildings and experience what life was like for members of this historic community. The village also hosts regular community events and is even available for weddings and other private events.
Old Economy was the home of the Harmony Society, which was a German Lutheran Separatist community that was led by George Rapp. This was the group’s third attempt at building a community in western Pennsylvania, which explains how the community was so well planned. The church and residential houses are at the center of the village, while the commercial structures are kept to the outskirts of the community.
The Harmony Society became quite successful from a financial standpoint due to their profitable investments in local industries, as well as their own production capabilities. While much of the fortune amassed by the society was lost in lengthy legal battles, the physical village eventually became the property of the state of Pennsylvania and was deemed a state historic site in 1919.
Visiting Old Economy
Today, Old Economy is a six-acre historic site that tells the story of the people who once lived there. Visitors begin their experience in the large Visitors Center that contains an orientation exhibit and theater, as well as research library and museum store. There are quite a few exhibits located in the Visitors Center that tell introduce you to the lifestyle of the people of Old Economy.
As visitors make their way through the village, they will have the opportunity to explore the Feast Hall where members of the village would meet for communal meals. The first floor of this building was also used as a natural history museum at the time. Other interesting buildings in the village include George Rapp’s house, the Carriage House, the Mechanics Building, and the Wine Cellar that was located below the Mechanics Building.
Some of the best times to visit Old Economy Village are on Saturdays during the summer months. On most of these weekends, there is a themed presentation available for visitors to watch that might cover topics like blacksmithing, bread baking, woodworking, or textiles. The village is also very popular in the fall during their annual Autumnfest Celebration.
Another popular reason that many local residents visit Old Economy Village is for weddings, meetings, and other interesting events. The village’s gardens serve as an elegant backdrop that many brides fall in love with. Many of the buildings throughout the community are also available to be rented for different events.
Visiting Old Economy Village is a great way to spend an afternoon learning about what life was like in western Pennsylvania almost 200 years ago. Of course, if you are planning to spend the day in Ambridge, you will also want to make sure you stop at Maples Restaurant for lunch or dinner! They are known for having an unbelievable roast beef dinner, and their rueben sandwich is pretty great too!