Nappanee’s many shops, beautifully restored murals, and storied architecture can be enjoyed with a leisurely stroll.
A window to another world, the quiet rhythms of Amish life—more than 3,500 Old Order Amish make their homes here—are revealed along back roads dotted with pristine white farmhouses, grazing cattle, and the eclectic Countryside Shoppes, a collection of rural retailers offering everything from quilts to cabinetry.
The town’s colorful history is preserved at the Nappanee Center. It’s packed with fascinating memorabilia and includes a tribute to the area’s celebrated cartoonists and generations of furniture crafters.
Prior to 1800 Nappanee was home to the Miami and Pottawatomi Indians. In 1830, the first white settlers came to the area and by 1870 there were seven farms and a population of forty providing the nucleus of a growing community.
The major catalyst for growth came with the B&O Railroad in 1874. Three pioneer farmers gave five acres to the Railroad for $1 to build a station along its new route to Chicago. This access to a major transportation route brought more settlers to the town that B&O dubbed “Nappanee.”
The families who populated the area were deeply religious and conservative, founding their community on the values of hard work and integrity.
The B&O has now become CSX, but Nappanee has some ways stayed the Nappanee of the 1880s. The city remains surrounded by many farm families of the Anabaptist religious sects, among them the Amish, Mennonite, and German Baptist.
Many surrounding farms have no electricity, natural gas or telephone lines connecting them to the outside world and horse-drawn buggies the main source of travel. These reminders of the past co-exist side-by-side with a modern American city, boasting a thriving light manufacturing industry focused on recreational vehicles and modular homes, as well as craftsmen who mix old and new in producing fine furniture and other woodwork.
Currently, Nappanee is home to a diverse population of approximately 7,070.
Experience the restoration of the Stahly-Nissley-Kuhns farmstead, the only Amish farm listed in The National Register of Historic Places. Widow Barbara Stahly and her five sons migrated from Germany to the southwest corner of Elkhart County, in 1839, making them, according to University of Chicago historian James Landing, likely the first Amish settlers in Indiana.
Following a year of meticulous restoration Amish Acres opened to the public in 1970. Enjoy the Award Winning Family Style Threshers Dinner served at your table under the hand-hewn timbers of the Century-Old Restaurant Barn.
Many handmade crafts and locally produced products are featured in Amish Acres’ unique shops. In addition you will find a bakery full of old fashioned breads and cakes, a meat and cheese shop with souse, headcheese, and buffalo meat, and a candy shop as sweet as it gets along with an antique marble soda fountain.
An Amish Acres tradition, Plain and Fancy, now in its 27th season, fills the Round Barn Theatre stage each April through October. This gentle but spirited musical comedy brought the first national attention to the quaint customs, stern morals, and picturesque dress of the Amish. Over 3,000 shows have been performed, and over 300,000 patrons have marveled at Amish Acres nationally recruited cast.
Location: Along US 6, 1 mile west of downtown Nappanee
Address: 1600 West Market Street, Nappanee, IN 46550
Phone: (574) 773-4188 or (800) 800-4942 (toll free)
Please Note: This is Part 6 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country
Don’t hurry, don’t worry, do your best, leave the rest. Bibles that are coming apart usually belong to people who are not. It may be difficult to wait on the Lord, but it is worse to wish you had” Don’t pray when it rains, if you don’t pray when the sun shines. Be like the teakettle; when it’s up to its neck in hot water, it sings. You can tell when you’re on the right track. It’s usually uphill.
—Amish quotes on Faith