12 Questions on Amish Homes

Do Amish kitchens have refrigerators? How do Amish light their homes?

Do Amish homes have shutters?

What about upholstered furniture?

Today we look at 12 questions on Amish homes.

As before I’ve excerpted several below; you’ll find the link to the full list at the end.

Do Amish kitchens have refrigerators?

Many if not most do. They are typically adapted to run on propane or natural gas. At least two companies (Crystal Cold of Arcola, Illinois and EZ Freeze of Shipshewana, Indiana) produce models which are popular in Amish communities. Some Amish rent freezer space from non-Amish neighbors. More conservative (“lower”) Amish use ice boxes and ice houses. They may purchase mechanically-manufactured ice or harvest their own.

Do Amish homes have shutters?

Some Amish homes have a very plain appearance, while others look quite modern.

While many Amish homes such as those in Midwestern settlements do not feature decorative shutters, some Amish homes do, for example in the Lancaster County settlement. While many Amish do not build homes with shutters, houses purchased from English owners or older historic homes may have them and they will often be left in place.

How do Amish decorate their homes?

This varies, but generally, decorations are more acceptable if they also fulfill a practical purpose. For example, it’s common to find calendars with attractive photographs of natural settings or other images, or wooden “perpetual calendars”. Some Amish hang colorful zip code charts with floral motifs. The Ten Commandments also hangs on walls in Amish homes.

Amish do not hang personal portraits, though some may display simple framed images commemorating a child’s birth, for example. Wall clocks are also very popular in Amish homes, some having extensive mechanical workings and playing a variety of tunes on the striking of the hour.

As far as the home’s exterior, Amish women often tend beautiful flower gardens and Amish homes may have fairly elaborate landscaping, particularly in more liberal settlements. The most traditional Amish generally do not tend flower gardens and may have a very hardscrabble appearance to their homes and yards.

How do Amish heat their homes?

Amish heat their homes using various means, including propane and natural gas heaters, and heating stoves burning wood and coal. Fireplaces are not common in Amish homes. The basement is a common location for a heating stove. Venting helps circulate heat throughout the home.

Find the full list here.

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    1. Multiple Clocks - All Set to Different Times.

      Here’s one for you.

      The wife of an Amish family I know in the upstate New York area keeps a number of clocks on the wall.

      All clocks are set to different times. I inquired of the husband why the wife kept these clocks all set to different times on the wall.

      I’m not sure that I comprehended the brief answer, which I don’t remember at this point in time.

      Does anyone else know why a number of wall clocks would be set to different times?

      Also, it’s not as if the clocks were set to different time zones.

      The times on the clocks varied between less than a full hour’s difference, to more than multiple hours (Not even increments of an hour) difference between the current local time.

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Lucinda

        Are they chiming clocks?

      2. I wondered the same thing as Lucinda. If they are chiming clocks, having them set at different times could serve two purposes: One, you don’t get all the chiming at once, making for a confusing and over-powering mess (sound-wise); and two, if you like a bit of melody but don’t have radio/phonograph/MP3-player or other form of electronic noise maker, this might be the closest acceptable option available. But all this is totally a guess, and not based upon any inside knowledge on the subject.

    2. Multiple Clocks - All Set to Different Times - Continued.

      From what I remember, at least some of the clocks were chiming clocks.

      The clocks were of the kind that had a pendulum hanging down, and swinging. Not a Grandfather / Grandmother clock, but a similar type that hangs on a wall.

      Next time I visit this particular family, I am again going to ask about the clocks set to different times, and try to remember the answer.

      1. I’ve noticed this in Amish homes too, but not to the degree your example showed – a single clock set say 15 or 20 minutes ahead. I did ask about it once but also don’t rcall the reason I was given – I think it would have stood out if it was more remarkable than say setting them ahead to make sure people are on time. But I think there is more to it than that. I’ll see if I can find out.

        At least some Amish do stay on regular time as far as church services go, so for instance a church start time of 8 in the non-daylight savings time peiod would be 9 in the summer (I may have gotten that backwards but you get the gist).

    3. Maureen New York

      Amish and clocks


      A very conservative Amish family in the North country had a coo coo clock set up by their front door for milking and other chores [particularly for their children]. I can still remember the grandmother pulling the chains up for winding. This family was part of a Swartzentruber group that returned to Wisconsin after six years here in St. Lawrence County, New York.

      I know of a slight bit more progressive Amish family that has a plain grandfather clock in their large open kitchen. The family uses the public school bus that transports their [Amish] kids to the Amish school house; it’s seen as a useful “tool” for that reason.

      Several Old Order Amish barns have battery operated old, plastic kitchen wall clocks.

      All the very conservative Mennonite families I know have clocks like the English.

      I’ve never seen an Amish or conservative Mennonite sporting a wrist watch.

      1. Interesting observations Maureen. I hadn’t seen a cuckoo clock before that I recall but often the grandfather clocks and of course the musical chime clocks. I don’t think I’d like to hear a clock going off on the hour though, especially when I’m trying to sleep, but that’s just me 🙂 It is interesting to see what types of timekeepers you’ll find in Amish places. You are right on the wrist watch, pocket watches are more the thing.

      2. Susan Griffith

        Amish homes interiors

        Scattered from the Midwest into New York State I have been in 10 or more different Amish homes and I have seen as many as five calendars in a room but I have not seen lots of clocks. I have also seen very little variation between any of them. they do things is so much the same that it’s incredible to me. it makes visiting amongst the different communities easy because they all know how to fall in with another home. The most important thing about homes for the Amish is hospitality and my dearest Amish friends when I would call to find out if it was OK if I came and spent the weekend you could hear the silence like confusion on the other end because they don’t do that if they’re out traveling in their van full of people is related to someone in a certain community they stop by and it is not a Mormons problem. The Amish are constantly visiting each other throughout all the Amish places where they live

    4. Al in Ky

      I’ve enjoyed your recent posts citing materials from previous posts in the “FAQ” section of the website. I accessed the link to the FAQ post about “homes” and re-read the information. I think it is very thorough and good in its information that not all Amish homes are alike. Details of the houses and homesteads often vary according to affiliation. I have also found in large Amish settlements such as Lagrange/Elkhart there can be variations in detail even in homes in the same community with the same affiliation. And in smaller communities (such as Salem/Paoli in southern Indiana), there can be four or more affiliations in a rather small radius – with lots of variation in architecture, furnishings, landscaping, etc.

    5. Steve B

      Fresh Water

      Eric, Thanks for the article. Maybe I’ve overlooked it, but I’m interested in hearing how the average Amish Home handles fresh water. I’m sure some houses are close enough to a municipal water system to hook-on, but that seems the same problem as depending on any other public system. Deep wells normally require electricity. Generators? 12V Battery Bank? Gravity?