Germany, USA
Religious, Christian
Gender Segregated
Communal Property
1740 - Present (Germany) 

1 Brothers’ Room 2 Glove Maker 3 Glazier 4 Doctor 5 Cobbler 6 Saddler 7 Musician’s Room 8 Main Hall (Dining & Services) 9 Superintendent’s Room 10 Pastor’s Room 11 Dormitory

The Moravians came to the USA in the 1740s as Christian missionaries from Germany. Moravian settlements were planned and administered from Saxony. The standardized village plan placed communal buildings at the center, including the meeting house (1), the communal store (8), and apothecary (9).

Moravian society was divided by age, gender, and marital status, into groups called choirs. Married couples, widowers, widows, single men, and single women lived in separate dormitories, ran their own farms and workshops, and were socially and economically independent. Children, including infants, were divided by gender and housed separately,  raised and educated by dedicated adults.

The goal of communalism and the segratory choir system was to enhance the religious and spiritual enthusiasm of the members, and to enable the missionary work. The rearing of children was a community effort, allowing women to fully participate in society/work. As the name suggests, singing and musical performance was a central task of the choirs. Moravians became famous for their music and the instruments they made.

Moravian End Notes
Lewis, Michael J. City of Refuge: Separatists and Utopian Town Planning. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Maurer, Joseph A., Hans-Karl Schuchard, and G. Wallace Driver. “MORAVIAN BUILDINGS IN BETHLEHEM.” Archaeology 3, no. 4 (1950): 226–32.

Ungers, Liselotte, and Oswald Mathias Ungers. Kommunen in Der Neuen Welt: 1740-1971. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1972. Page  86

The use of rooms shown on the floor plan are taken from an undated drawing in the Bethlehem Moravian Archives, courtesy of the National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior.

Praetzel, Matthew. “Historic Moravian Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a National Historic Landmark District.” Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, February 26, 2014.

Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.