“Where giants walked”. Those are the words our tour guide, the curator of the Mansion House in Oneida, New York, used to describe the Oneida Community. Disbanded more than 120 years ago, the community grounds still emit a feeling both vibrant and tranquil.
I didn’t know what to expect when the “cousins trip” arrived in Oneida. What we found far exceeded even my enthusiastic expectations. We spent a night in the Mansion House where our rooms were simple but lovely. The environment was so much more.
The Oneida Community was founded in the belief that individuals can become free from sin while still here on earth. Beyond their religious aspirations, their practical reality involved a focus on hard community labor, culture, music, art and literature. These values resonated throughout the community. Beautification of the grounds of the Mansion House and of the surrounding community are evident today.
While much of the Mansion House is plain, befitting a society based on de-emphasizing private property, there was an emphasis on beauty of the common areas. The great hall that was a central meeting area demonstrates the community’s commitment to perfection in its culture and art.
The grounds are lovely, incorporating gardens, simple fountains and open areas surrounded by trees.
Artistic endeavors were encouraged. The museum displays beautiful art such as this unique braided rug that are wonderful works of craftsmanship.
The library was a focal point of daily life, filled with books that were identified as incorporating all of the knowledge important to a learned community. It remains a great place to visit and study.
While long disbanded as a religious community, descendants of community members continue to live in the shadow of the Mansion House. While their homes are not elegant, they are as graceful, well-groomed and inviting as the people who live there.
Welcome to “Utopia”.