The 1719 Hans Herr House, the oldest surviving building in Lancaster County and oldest extant Mennonite meetinghouse in America, is an important component of Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society’s role of demonstrating early Lancaster County Mennonite history. Located just outside the town of Willow Street, it was purchased by LMHS in 1969 and underwent restoration in the early 1970s before opening to the public.
The original owner, Christian Herr, was a member of the first group of European immigrants to arrive in what is now Lancaster County in 1710. The house never underwent significant structural changes, making it a well-preserved example of a medieval Germanic farmhouse, emblematic of Mennonites’ transition from Europe to America. It also serves as a historical focal point for Herr descendants, which now number in the hundreds of thousands across America.
Today, guests can go on a 45-minute guided tour of the house to learn about the people, faith, and culture associated with the historic structure. The grounds feature numerous self-guided exhibits, many housed in historic outbuildings from when the property was a working farm, where visitors can explore at their leisure artifacts related to faith, agriculture, and domestic life from the 1700s onward.
Special events at the Herr House include the Maize and Snitz Fest each fall and Christmas Candlelight Tours each December. These days include unique presentations that are fun for the whole family. Folk art classes, such as blacksmithing, hearth cooking, and bookbinding, are featured periodically so that visitors can learn unique historic skills. The grounds are a great destination for school groups, from preschool-aged to college.
The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Saturday, April 1 to November 30. Visit www.hansherr.org or call 717-464-4438 for details.