Question: What stands out here in this cemetery? Answer: Nothing
That’s right, it’s a “graves with no headstones” cemetery! Well, at least for the first settlers’ graves. It’s because the Harmonists believed in equality for all members, in both life as well as death. It was established when they first began their settlement into the area, likely because of deaths resulting from the initially harsh living conditions while forging their new frontier. Over 200 Harmonists are buried at this site, which is enclosed by a wall built from red bricks rescued from an original church. This cemetery also shares space with several Native American Burial Mounds, dating back to over 2000 years!
The Roofless Church
Architect Phillip Johnson and his client Jane Blaffer Owen envisioned a church where “the only roof large enough to encompass a world of worshippers was the sky.” The Roofless Church in New Harmony, completed in 1960, fulfilled that dream.
It’s not just the shingled structure inside, but this open-air modernist masterpiece actually encompasses an entire city block. The parabolic shaped dome, albeit lovely, primarily serves as a protective cover for its centerpiece, a beautiful Jacques Lipchitz sculpture.
Who was Jane Blaffer Owen, who commissioned the building of this serene and emblematic sanctuary? She was the wife of Kenneth Dale Owen, born in New Harmony and a descendent of Robert Owen. Remember in my first post about New Harmony being sold to Robert Owen in 1825 for a second attempt at a Utopian Society? That’s Mrs. Owen’s connection to the town and its history, and she fell in love with New Harmony the first time she saw it. From her generosity, due to primarily to her husband’s fortune made from the oil business, she endeavored to preserve and promote the town’s historical and educational features.
What’s next? New Harmony Printing Office and Great Craftsmanship!
Start at the Beginning of this New Harmony Series
What adventure awaits us after this? Viking’s Grand European River Cruise!