A Hidden Treasure in Lancaster County

In United States by SusanLeave a Comment

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There is a treasure hidden in Lancaster County.  We didn’t know that Lititz was voted the "2013 Coolest Small Town” by Lonely Planet’s Budget Travel when we arrived.  But by the time we left, we understood why and completely agreed.

About Lititz

Lititz is a charming town.  The commercial area is beautifully maintained and the tempo (off the busy feeder roads) was relaxing.  We enjoyed the shops, restaurants, and pretty parks, and as always, the history.

Linden Hall in Lititz

Lititz was founded by the Moravians, who, just like the Amish and Mennonites in Lancaster County,  left Germany to find religious freedom in the new world.  The best short summary of Moravian immigration I found can be read HERE.

The Moravians first settled in Bethlehem and Nazareth Pennsylvania in 1741.  An itinerant preacher named Count Nicholas Louis von Zinzendorf was instrumental in shaping and naming the future Lititz Moravian community about 10 years later.

Many of the community's historic buildings still stand on Church Square, including the church, the single brother’s house, and the single sister’s house.

Then there's Linden Hall, a Moravian college preparatory school founded in 1746 for young girls.  It is the oldest residential school for girls in the country.  I found this particularly interesting because I am an alumnus from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, known for being the first women’s college west of the Mississippi.  Lindenwood began life in 1827 as the Linden Wood School for Girls.  Both Lindenwood and Linden Hall were named after the linden trees on their campus.  (After all these years I just discovered that linden is the German name for the tree we call basswood in North America.)

A lovely afternoon in Lititz

We made our way down Broad Street to Main Street passing restaurants and shops to reach the historical sites.  Our first stop was the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery,  the very first commercial pretzel bakery in the States.  A soft, hot pretzel allayed our hunger in order to take in the Lititz Historical Foundation and Museum and private tour of the Johannes Mueller House, circa 1792.

Touring the Johannes Mueller House was informative and enjoyable.

Moravian life is quite different from Mennonite and Amish life.  For one thing, higher education is encouraged for both boys and girls.  Also, the community was like a giant commune with only one person assigned to each trade.  Johannes Mueller happened to be the town dyer.  Some years later his son-in-law occupied the same house and he was the postmaster.

All families were responsible for growing their own flax for cloth and their own food.  It’s hard to imagine being this self sufficient.  In addition to their assigned roles and family needs, both men and women took on special projects like making toys or extra baking in order to exchange goods that enriched everyone’s lives.

We put a sweet ending on a pleasurable day at the lovely Wilbur Chocolate Factory, a Lititz business since 1865.  There’s an interesting story about the Wilbur Buds - their flagship product.  The Wilbur Chocolate Factory invented the Buds seven years before Hershey Kisses came along and copied them - silver foil and all.  That history alone got me to buy a bag of dark chocolate Wilber Buds and I didn’t regret it one bite, er… one bit?

Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career.  She writes about her experiences as a vagabond in Europe.  Susan shares her gentle life with her husband, Jamie, and two geriatric cats they brought with them from the United States.

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