Ephrata Cloister


Photos contributed by R. Rickert



Founded in 1732 by followers of Conrad Beissel, the Ephrata community was comprised of German settlers seeking spiritual goals rather than earthly rewards. Forming a mystical, semi-monastic society, these "Solitary Brethren" and "Spiritual Virgins" observed the seventh day as their Sabbath and practiced the rites of an occult philosophy. After a time their Cloisters became centers of industry.  Here was made much of the paper used during the Revolution, and oil was pressed for printer's ink.  By 1742-43 their book bindery was the largest and best equipped in the colonies, and on their hand-press some of the earliest and most important American printing was done.  Here the "Martyr Book" was translated from the Dutch into German, and printed and bound with leather and brass mountings.  Wagon loads of unbound copies were later requisitioned by Washington's armies and used for wads in cannons.



Click on photos for a larger view.


The Academy Academy Sign Conrad Biessel's House
Amphitheater Bakery Bakery Pump
Physician's House Printing Office Privy
  Constructed in two stages, the west side dates from 1735 and is
one of the oldest structures on the site. The east side was built nearly a
century later.
 The Saal Saal - Inside View Sisters' House
Worship services were held here.
Originally constructed in 1741 for the married Householders, it was assigned to the Sisters after moving into the Saron four years later.
The women & children sat
upstairs and the men downstairs.
Constructed in 1743, it is largest surviving building on the site. The home of Ephrata's order of celibate women, formally known as the Roses of Sharon.
Saron Bake Oven Stable Weaver's House
Built in the early 19th century. The curved shape of the red clay roof tiles were formed by having damp clay formed over the tile maker's thigh prior to firing. The Stable is a reproduction of the orginal that stood at this spot. It
housed a few horses and cows that were kept in the community.

Excerpt from Will Books and Intestate Records of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1729-1850, With An Historical Sketch and Classified Bibliography Prepared by Eleanore Jane Fulton and Barbara Kendig Mylin, 1936





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Abby Bowman and was last updated on 03/25/2007


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