The Hermitage




    The Mahantongo Heritage Center


                 Where the earth and the spirit unite



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The world is increasingly chaotic and peace seems intangible. So many people act as though they are separate from everything else. How different the planet would be if humans realized how connected we are at the most basic level because we are incarnations of the spirit; we come from the spirit and we return to the spirit. Knowing this, and acting on it, will change our understanding of who and what we are. By changing the axioms of our lives, we change the world itself. How hopeful we can be! The planet is home and every living thing is part of us just as we are part of every living thing. We are family within the unity and wholeness of existence. As one of our hymns says, “All time is now and all space is here.” Of course, acting on that understanding, and living it, is hard to do.

When we bought the land in 1988, only the barn was here. We lived in it for nearly two years while we moved an early pioneer settler’s cabin to the property and rebuilt it as the First House.

That first winter was miserably cold and we only had a kerosene heater which absolutely failed to keep us warm. We ended up moving our 11-foot camper trailer into the barn and living in it during the coldest months. Needless to say there was no electricity, no running water, no plumbing and little of anything else. That was by necessity. But we kept it that way for years as we built the community by moving other buildings onto the property, either in pieces or intact, and redesigning them.  

Our goal was to recreate an eighteenth-century community of single brothers that was located north of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We had moved to Bethlehem from Salt Lake City where we met in college. We came to Pennsylvania to buy a farm. But Bethlehem had originally been a religious community and we wanted to have our own spiritual  family of brothers. 

Our model was a community called Christiansbrunn, the Spring of Christian, named for the leader of the brotherhood. Ironically he never came to Pennsylvania, being born in Germany and dying in London at the age of 24. However his brothers believe Christian’s spirit lived again in the waters of what became a sacred spring. By drinking the water, they believed, one was entered by the spirit of Christian. That spring still exists.                                                                        


“The Peaceable Kingdom” by Quaker artist Edward Hicks. Public domain.

Change the axiom and you change the world.

All time is now and all space is here.

Christian's Spring

This set us on fire. It was the union of the physical and the spiritual which we had been seeking for years. The idea was by living the life of those early brothers, that the brotherhood would live again. Yet we found that we were not suited to communal life but to the isolated life of hermits, which each brother living in his own house.  

Now our master plan in completed with more than two dozen structures on the property, including craft houses, a community house and the Mahantongo Heritage Center.

Our own lives have changed as we have created a family not solely of humans but a broader ideal of living with the birds and animals that inhabit the Hermitage. William Penn’s vision of an earthly paradise garden where humans and animals live in peace continues to guide us. 

We have come to realize that all are one and one is all. However it is easier to say than to live.                      

As Harmonists, our goal is to live in harmony with the spirit and the earth at every moment. Such an elusive goal! And, like all powerful ideals, one that is difficult to attain. The times when we are most successful is when we don’t even try.

We’re already dead and we haven’t even been born yet.


The way we were: 1994. Photograph by David Perry and used with permission.


Our annual open house for 2015 will be Sunday, August 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Major buildings and the museum will be open for tours. Johannes will also be doing a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch bake day at the 200-year-old bake oven. No admission fee but donations are accepted.

Where beauty and harmony dwell, the earth joins with the spirit, and humanity unites with all living things.

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Christian and Johannes have been growing and processing flax to linen since the early 1980s. The website presents historical flax information, flax production and flax items for sale.


The Third Testament tells our spirituality in story by Johannes and in poetry by Christian



The Mahantongo Heritage Center and the Hermitage are open by reservation. Please contact us to schedule a visit.

There is no admission fee but donations are gratefully accepted.

Postal mail: The Hermitage, 75 Grove Rd., Pitman, PA 17964 U.S.

Phone: 570-425-2548

Email: brojoh@yahoo.com

Check our videos at www.youtube.com and type in “atthehermitage” in the search line.