|One of several log cabin homes in Harmony.|
What could a PA town possibly have to do with the Brooklyn Bridge? You’d have to go to Saxonburg, in Butler County — about an hour north of Pittsburgh — to find out. And while you’re there, you should also take some time to explore the nearby village, Harmony, and it’s larger neighbor, Zelienople.
One of my favorite activities is to explore little towns scattered along our highways and byways. Often these towns offer up surprises, such as really cool boutiques, fun fall festivals, and historic homes and buildings. In fact, Butler County has more than its fair share of quaint towns, just brimming over with boutiques and antiques and great places to eat!
So what is Saxonburg’s mysterious connection with the Brooklyn Bridge? Saxonburg is one of Butler County’s small quaint towns, founded in 1832 by brothers F. Carl and John Roebling as a German farming colony. The two men, along with a handful of a larger group who accompanied them on journey from Germany, bought 1,582 acres of land on October 1831 from Sarah Collins.
|Batch is a bakery and sandwich shop in Saxonburg.|
|Addison’s Attic is a quaint boutique, whose owners make many (most?) of the items in the shop themselves.|
|A drum circle on the lawn of Harmony Inn.|
After exploring the antiques shop, go for a cup of coffee, a few doors down, at Saxonburg Coffee Co., before heading over for a bit to eat at Batch, a bakery and sandwich shop across the street. After exploring Saxonburg, we headed over to Harmony and Zelienople, to check out the Zelienople-Harmony Fall Festival.
Although both Harmony and Zelienople have annual fall festivals, Harmony’s is smaller and more intimate, with drum circles, dachshund races, a flea market, and living history displays. There are a couple of interesting boutiques. The attraction to Harmony is strong. It seems like a really nice place to live — and the people there were easy to chat with. Briefly I considered moving there. (I still might!)
|The Harmonist-Ziegler Barn in Harmony.|
Harmony was founded by the pietist Johann Georg Rapp and his Harmony Society in 1804. Rapp came to America from Württemberg, Germany, a year earlier in search of land for his followers that was free from the religious persecution they faced in Germany.
Just a few miles away, Zelienople’s portion of Fall Festival included a slightly livelier variety of crafts booths, food trucks, 5k runs, carriage rides, live music, and living history displays, making it the larger of the two festivals.
Zelienople was named for the eldest daughter of German aristocrat Dettmar Basse, Zelie. Basse arrived in 1802 from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and purchased a tract of 10,000 acres in Butler and Beaver counties. He proceeded to lay out a village and build his own private residence, a three-story castle, complete with towers, turrets and battlements, which was destroyed by fire in 1842.
For other day trip destinations in and around Butler County PA, go to the Blog’s Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Butler County label below.
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