Ephrata Cloister offers rare tour

By on August 22, 2018

On Sept. 8, visits to the upper levels of the 1743 Sisters’ House of the Ephrata Cloister will be available.


“What’s upstairs?” is a common question from visitors to the historic Ephrata Cloister.

The National Historic Landmark preserves the legacy of the German religious community founded at the site in 1732. Included on the property is some of the most significant architecture surviving from early America.

On Saturday, Sept. 8, special limited tours will reveal the answer to the question with visits to the upper levels of the 1743 Sisters’ House. Scheduled tours throughout the day can only accommodate 20 guests, and advanced reservations are encouraged, with some limitations. Admission for the experience is $15 per person.

During the work to return the colonial site to an original appearance, the upper levels received minimal restoration. They contain 275-year-old floors, shelves, benches, and hearths, allowing historians to explore the technologies, materials, and techniques employed by the builders in the 1700s. Access to the upper levels is restricted to help preserve these rare resources. Opening the upper floors for general visitors happens infrequently, and visitor who attend the tours will have a memorable view of history.

Tours of the upper floors are limited to visitors over age 10, and require good eyesight, along with the ability to climb steep and winding stairs. Canes, walkers or other assistance devices are not permitted. Persons with breathing or heart problems may encounter difficulties on this tour. Tours exploring the history of the Ephrata Cloister on the first floor of the historic structures will be offered at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the standard admission rate.

To make reservations for the upstairs tours, or to learn more about the historic site or regular tours, contact the Ephrata Cloister at 717-733-6600 or check the website EphrataCloister.org. Ephrata Cloister is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with support from the Ephrata Cloister Associates.

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