Amish Acres Is Closing

Amish Acres, in the Nappanee, Indiana community, is one of the best-known Amish tourist destinations, so this news surprised me.

The owners are heading for retirement after 50+ years running the business.

Amish Acres will shut down this year on New Year’s Eve. There are currently no set plans for it to be taken over.

Image: WNDU

The attraction features an historic farm which can be toured, a theater, buggy rides, and food and lodging.

The Nappanee mayor and the Goshen News editorial page were among those offering a response to the news. This excerpt from Mayor Phil Jenkins’ statement reflects the importance of the business to the community:

We wish the Pletcher’s a long and well-deserved retirement. We are committed to working with the family to find a suitable buyer of the property.

If Nappanee is known for one thing, it is resiliency. We have been through tough times before and each time we have rallied to come back stronger. We are confident that will be the case in this situation as well.

The Goshen Newseditorial emphasizes the business’ original mission and value from an educational and historical perspective:

The closure of Amish Acres at the end of the year will be a somber occasion, as this famous attraction has given visitors from around the world a glimpse of what it was like to be part of a “plain” family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

While everyone around here calls the attraction Amish Acres, the official name is Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort. The longer title reflects the purpose and scope of the venture created by LaVern and Dick Pletcher 50 years ago.

Nappanee Water Tower

The business’ site claims it to be “The Only Amish Farm Listed in the National Register of Historic Places”, and the family who built the farmhouse are described as “likely the first Amish settlers in Indiana.”

The Goshen News gives the farm’s background, and how it assumed its current role:

THE FARM WAS ONCE known as the Stahly-Nisley-Kuhns farmstead, according to information from Amish Acres. Widow Barbara Stahly and her sons immigrated to southwest Elkhart County from Germany in 1839. One historian says the family were possibly the first Amish settlers in Indiana. By 1873, one of Stahly’s sons, Christian, had purchased 80 acres of land to build a house and barn for his son Moses. The main house on the property was built in 1893. The farm was passed to other family members, and then Pletcher and his father LaVern joined with fellow Nappanee businessmen Gordon McCormick, Ivo “Pete” Heckaman and Freeman Borkholder to form a corporation to bid on the property at auction in 1968. They won the bid, and shortly after Amish Acres opened in 1970, the Pletcher family became the sole owners.

Though I lived nearby for several months and have spent a good amount of time in the Nappanee Amish settlement, I’ve never done the Amish Acres experience (I’ve been in the gift shop there, and around the grounds a bit).

Here’s a photo of the famous Round Barn Theatre I took in 2011, which is the national home of the Plain and Fancy musical).

Round Barn Theatre Nappanee

People criticize Amish-themed tourist businesses, but they often benefit Amish people.

Businesses like Amish Acres are not only important for the local economy, but if they draw visitors who patronize Amish businesses, that is positive for the Amish as well.

I’m not sure, but it’s quite possible the business also employed Amish directly, and likely resold Amish-made products as well.

I would be surprised if someone didn’t take over this business, given its popularity. Indeed, it seems like buyers are already lining up:

Pletcher said he isn’t sure what might come of the place once someone new buys it. Since news of their plans to close at year’s end spread last week, their phones have been “ringing off the hook” from interested buyers. He said some employees had thought about buying it for more than a year but ultimately were unable to obtain the financing.

So don’t expect this landmark to completely disappear, though depending on how long it takes to find a buyer, it might be “off the grid” for awhile.

And whether it continues in more or less its present form when bought, remains to be seen.

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    1. Emily S

      Will miss Amish Acres

      I went to their annual arts and crafts festival a few times. It was the best! And it was in such a nice setting!

    2. A. K. Edwards

      Amish Acres

      Such a sad loss but I will have the special memories of going there in the years past.
      A well deserved retirement I am sure but it will be so missed!!! It was always such a special outing coming from Michigan for such a fun experience!! Thank you for your years of making this possible for so many people over all these years!!!

    3. James Krämer

      Amish Acres

      Sad to see this go the way of far too many worthwhile things. Our German cultural club is being changed into just another bar/restaurant/German in name only locale. They don’t value those of us with the true language and culture, nor a heritage of 180 plus years.
      The Amish should be free to live without fear or pressure, yet the outside, commercially driven world doesn’t accommodate difference, for all its pandering for diversity! Attractions designed to foster understanding and wholesome entertainment are becoming increasingly rare. Too sad, really.

    4. Season Pass Tickets for 2020

      I purchased a season pass for Amish Acres. When we came to see Beauty and The Beast there was a listing for the 2020 Season. Will this money be Refunded?

      1. Hi Linda, I don’t know how that will be handled – you’d probably need to contact Amish Acres directly to find out, hope you get it sorted out.

    5. Amish Acres up for auction tomorrow Feb. 5

      The Amish Acres property goes up for auction tomorrow. Looks like the owners had searched for some time for someone to take over the property as it is and continue running the business, but were not able to. The property has been portioned into lots which will be sold individually. Looks like that is the end of Amish Acres the destination as people have known it til now, though there is hope it could continue in some fashion. Sounds like that depends on how the parcels are sold and of course the intentions of the final buyers. The sales process is a bit unclear to me going by the information in this article:

      ‘The auction, which gets underway at 6 p.m. Wednesday, will go parcel-by-parcel to establish a baseline for the price of the property. When that is completed, Schrader Auction will combine various parcels to determine whether it can fetch a higher price for the Pletcher family by combining various parcels or even the entire property.’


      ‘Hope remains
      Almost everyone in Nappanee is hopeful it will survive in some form as an attraction.

      “The town would really miss it,” said Theresa Fry, who works the front desk at the Inn and has been a resident of Nappanee for 35 years. “It brings in school groups and people from all over, even other countries.”

      Kitson shares the same hope, even if some of the parcels end up under different ownership. “I truly believe there is interest in keeping it intact or continuing in some fashion,” he said.’

    6. Peter Wehle


      02/20/20 Thursday

      02/20/20 Thursday

      Hello, my name is Pete Wehle. I was an actor back some twenty years ago at Amish Acres. I had a wonderful time playing in “Plain and Fancy”, “Peter Pan”, Man of La Mancha and Fiddler on the Roof on the Joseph Stein Stage. I will always remember fondly my time at “Amish Acres.” The Pletcher’s and everyone associated with “Amish Acres”, were very professional and very kind to us locals.

      Love and Compassion and Gratitude,
      Pete Wehle
      (P.S. Here is a short poem I wrote dedicated to all the good souls we lost in 2019.)


      I weep for a weeping world
      beside a creek full of woe
      Can there ever be a light for me?
      Brighter then the sun used to be.

      The river flows onward without
      a feeling of sorrow or even a mess.
      It is a feeling, nothing more or less.

      A symbol of eternal consciousness,
      This river could be you or it could be me,
      forever running towards the sea.

      It is a river, nothing more, nothing less
      winding around the curves and bends,
      flowing briskly, sometimes slowly
      inexorably to its end.

      One more tear of mine would not matter
      I am but a tiny thing on its platter
      But, if I weep no more
      The world will be a better place,
      full of wonder and full of grace.

      A simple understanding that we are all
      part of this Human Race.

      1. Pete, thanks for sharing your memories with us, and this beautiful and thought-provoking poem. I never attended a musical at the theater, but it seems like it would be a charming place for one.

        It sounds like the Pletcher family have been great for the community.