When I close my eyes and think of an Amish home I think of the one featured in the Harrison Ford film Witness. The home actually resembles Lovina’s and her mother’s: rambling, two-story, white clapboard homes surrounded by outbuildings and a spacious, well-tended garden. The first photo below is of an Amish home in Lancaster courtesy of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau. Pretty typical of what you picture when you think of an Amish home? Me too.
But not all Amish homes are created equal. The more conservative an Amish settlement is the more…no-frills…the homes tend to be. This is a generalization, but I’ve generally found it to be true. The Swartzentruber Amish homes tend to be more spartan, as do more conservative Old Order Amish. Beeville, Texas is a very conservative, small Old Order Amish settlement and their homes are generally without siding and sported rusty metal roofs. The next photo is from a more conservative Amish settlement: Bowling Green, Missouri. Thank you, Beth, for this photo. Notice the absence of siding and the relative lack of lawn (although unlike the absolute most conservative communities, this house does have a shingled roof) as indicators that this is a pretty conservative settlement. Now, in fairness, maybe the house is going to get siding (note some of the house has it), but houses without siding in more conservative settlements are not uncommon and it’s just not a priority purchase. And on the other end of the spectrum, some Amish homes really are quite striking in their beauty (beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder…I think the white farmhouses are pretty, but I think there is also a sort of barren beauty to places like the one pictured above in Bowling green). The Old Order Amish of St. Ignatius, Montana live in some rather large log homes and very well-kept, tidy “mini-mansions” with lovely lawns and bountiful gardens. This photo is of an Amish home in the relatively more liberal and prosperous community of Grabill, Indiana. Thanks, Dave Shaner, for this picture. Note the much more modern design and brick facade. If not for the lack of wires running into the home that could be a suburban soccer Mom and Dad dwelling in Anywhere, America. So like with most things about the Amish, you can’t paint with a broad brush. There are huge variations from place to place. The insides of homes can yield even more striking differences and I’ll take you on a photo tour of the insides of a selection of Amish homes sometime soon, so stay tuned!