In the fertile and densely populated county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia, in pastoral scenery and rolling green hills, lies Ephrata. In the center of this township is the historical site of the Ephrata Cloister. It was reconstructed in the twentieth century to save the remains of the old commune Ephrata, established in the 1730s, from decay. Amid well-tended lawns and massive trees, there is a cluster of small cottages and two wooden, three-story houses. They are prominent because of their quaint architecture and adjoining wings which form a right angle. Narrow windows are set in the walls, under a steep gabled roof. At the low, narrow gates long-robed guides await the visitor. Their white, Capuchine monk’s costume used to be the habit of commune members in the past. Visitors are taken along somewhat gloomy, narrow corridors and told the story of Ephrata. Artifacts of the period in living rooms, assembly halls, and places of work make history come alive. Everything is meticulously reconstructed to bring back the special atmosphere of the past. Most impressive are the solidly built wooden houses which were constructed without any iron tools or nails. These houses have stood since 1740 and are as good as new. They are the oldest remaining concrete evidence of the American communes. Among their walls the first stable commune lived its life for over a generation, leaving an impact on the society of their period in the United States as well as in Europe. 1