The original occupants of the Ludwig Epple House were Margaretha Epple, widow of Ludwig Epple (d. 1807), and her children: Ludwig (withdrew 1832), and Jacob (d. 1823), We are uncertain if their daughter Margaretha (b. 1806, d. 1814) ever lived in New Harmony, but she obviously died before the house was constructed.
The original two story home, with a 20 by 30 foot print, containing approximately 1200 square feet, plus an attic, was constructed ca. 1818 – 1821. A one and a half story addition was completed on the north side of the original home, at least by 1898. Fire destroyed earlier court records, but the 1898 record confirms the addition was then in place. When the attic of the addition was rebuild in 2012, creating the Wabash Suite, the roof timbers indicated the addition was actually two buildings that had been moved from elsewhere in New Harmony (a relatively common practice in that era). During the period from 1900 to 1990 various modifications were made: a front porch was added, windows enlarged, entrance moved to the south side of the building. During the “oil boom” the house was converted into three rental apartments.
More recently owners have worked to restore the feel and ambiance of the historic 1800s: windows and front door are historically correct, original floor plan recreated, etc. None-the-less by 2010 the home needed major repairs and upgrades.
The present owner, Mary Ann O’Reilly, and her husband Michael, live in St. Louis where he practices law. However they have been regular visitors to New Harmony since 2000. When the Ludwig Epple House last came on the market she organized New Harmony Guest House, LLC to preserve, maintain, and operate this historically significant home by sharing it with special guests on a short term rental basis.
We thought since about half of the present structure was added long after the Harmonist period we should call the present building the New Harmony Guest House, Mary Ann explained. We quickly learned the local inhabitant, who had referred to it as the Ludwig Epple House for almost 200 years, were not going to change. “We are happy with either name Ludwig Epple Guest House, LLC, or New Harmony Guest House, LLC.” she added.
Now upgraded with 21st century amenities the Ludwig Epple House has a well equipped kitchen, four bedrooms, three modern bathrooms, air conditioning, the attic of the 1898 addition is now the spacious and bright Wabash Suite with a three window bench dormer and separate outside staircase.
In 2013 the adjacent lot was acquired to restore the property to its original Harmonists dimensions.
Mary Ann and Michael since 2010 have spent countless hours sourcing and acquiring antique, semi antique and reproduction furniture and furnishings they felt appropriate for this historic residence, but still be practical for everyday use. “The Ludwig Epple house is not a museum, it is intended to be lived in on a regular basis. Two rocking chairs next to the mantel just seemed like a better choice than a Lazyboy recliner”, she notes. “But like the house, and everything in it, they must be in good functional condition, not needing rebuilding and refinishing.” Everything in the home, except for the kitchen appliances, was purchased after she acquired the home.
Mary Ann says, “I love the Ludwig Epple House. We are just its caretakers. I hope we create a sustainable basis for its future maintenance and preservation.”
The Ludwig Epple House is listed on Wikipedia