From it's early start as a religious hideaway for the strictly devout to its contemporary status as a living vintage town, Ephrata PA is unique blend of quiet history, developing industry, bustling arts and entertainment, and great place to call home.
Originally settled in 1732 by Conrad Beissel, a German native who left his homeland to find spiritual freedom in America, the Cloister began as a small group of individuals committed to following a spiritual lifestyle that included remaining celibate and enjoying few comforts. At its height, the community was thriving with almost 80 core members that were supported by more than 200 family members in the surrounding area.
Alongside their daily spiritual rituals, the Cloister ran a modern water-powered saw mill, grain mill, paper mill, and an oil mill. They also ran a German printing press, operated a clock making shop, and planted and harvested flax to spin into linen thread that was woven into cloth to form the monastic robes that were worn. Many of the buildings, materials, and original machinery remain today.
The community declined after the death of its leader in 1768, and today the remaining structures are owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have been restored to their original conditions and tours and special programs are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
In the early 1800s, Ephrata PA became known as a popular resort area. Travelers would come by train to enjoy the fresh country air and healing waters at the Mountain Springs Hotel. Over the years, the population of the town grew and a bustling downtown area developed that included shops and boutiques, a live theatre, restaurants, and lodging for out-of-town visitors.
Today, Ephrata PA is home to one of the largest farmer's markets in the country. The thriving downtown area is home to more than 100 businesses that provide not just goods and services, but an abundance of places to work. The streets, lined with paved sidewalks and antique lamp posts, are shared with the horse-drawn carriages of the Mennonite and Amish neighbors.
The residential areas are a delightful mix of historic buildings and newer homes to offer a truly unique vintage life with all of the modern conveniences to make it comfortable. The population in the area is steadily growing and the community has an excellent public school system to support its youngest members along with a modern Performing Arts Center, Recreation Center, and over 322 acres of parks and outdoor facilities.
If you're ready to become a part of the history of Ephrata PA, contact Prudential Homesale Services Group for help finding your next home.