One thing visitors always want to know is: “Why are you located next to a Target?”
We’re a tourist attraction focused on preserving and showcasing Amish lifestyle and rural traditions, so why are we part of a busy shopping center? Of course, the Amish Farm & House and the farm itself were here long before any new businesses or shopping centers.
The truth is that we didn’t choose to share our land with a shopping center. Our story is one of survival.
When the farm and surrounding land (where Target and the shopping center now stand) went up for sale, our future here was uncertain. It was a horrible time for us because the new owner/developer wanted to destroy the farmhouse and farm to start construction on the Target and strip mall. We knew we had to fight to save the farmhouse and the land because of its historical significance.
After weeks and weeks of calls and meetings, we finally convinced the developer to preserve the farmland and the buildings.
Our story is a familiar one in Lancaster County. You will find many Amish farms and homes near modern shopping areas, as is the case with the Tanger and Rockvale Outlets.
The funny thing is that the Amish are more modern than you might think. The Amish love to shop at Target so much so that we had to extend our parking shed to accommodate all the horse and buggies!
While it was never our desire to have a Target next door to us, we survived and are making it work.
Lancaster County has grown and changed quite a bit since the 1950s, and so has the Amish community. We still believe in respecting and upholding traditional Amish values, and we continue the tradition of properly educating curious visitors on Amish lifestyle just as Neuber envisioned. But that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with our visitors on a contemporary level and show them how traditions and new trends can blend together to create something special too – just like Lancaster County itself!
Below, we will explore the Amish Farm & House’s more contemporary history and how we continue to serve Lancaster County after more than 60 years of business.
Lancaster’s First Tourist Attraction Thrives in Twenty-First Century
Lancaster County is famous for its Amish communities and agricultural production. Lancaster has long been a hot-spot for domestic and international tourism as it’s only a few hours from major metropolitan areas like New York city, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
At the center of this cultural hub, is the Amish Farm & House — Lancaster’s first tourist attraction and the nation’s first Amish-focused tourist attraction.
The Amish Farm & House Story
Prior to its official establishment as an attraction in 1955, Amish Farm & House was a working farm dating back to 1715 when William Penn donated the land to colonial Governor, John Evans. The farm changed hands numerous times during its first 240 years of raising livestock and producing corn, alfalfa, tobacco, and other traditional Pennsylvania German produce. Local restaurateur, Adolf Neuber, recognized a need to educate residents and curious travelers on Amish traditions and farming after the 1954 Broadway hit play, “Plain and Fancy.” Focused on the Amish of Lancaster County, the play’s success increased Lancaster tourism from an annual average of 25,000 visitors (1954) to 2,000,000 by 1960.
This change marked the beginning of Amish Farm & House as Lancaster Country’s first tourist attraction, and the nation’s first Amish-focused tourist attraction. Over the last 60 years, we have helped hundreds of thousands of visitors and locals better understand the Amish culture and way of life.
Join Us at Our Next Event
Today, we offer much more than tours of the farm and a history of the Amish in Lancaster County. Our events calendar is full of seasonal festivals, workshops, and exhibits showcasing blacksmith demonstrations, wood carving, handmade crafts, and other Amish trades and traditions. Additionally, we have recently added more contemporary attractions like and our brand-new Goat Yoga.
All our events are family-friendly, but if you’re looking for something just for the kids then we recommend also checking out the Willow Lane One-Room Schoolhouse. Lancaster County’s only one-room school includes traditional amenities and showcases Amish curriculum, games, and artwork done by local children. This schoolhouse is open 7 days a week so come in and learn first-hand what it’s like to be a student in an Amish school. Student and school groups are welcome too. Educators can request more information here.
We want our visitors to see the value and splendor in our county’s rich history, but we also want to show that Amish Farm & House sees the value in progress and change. We’re located on Covered Bridge Rd., right off route 30. You can’t miss us, we’re right next to Target!