A Brief History of Die Heimat Country Inn….
We are located in Homestead, one of the seven villages of the Amana Colonies, an historic German settlement with religious roots – originally named the Community of True Inspiration.
The village of Homestead was not included in the original purchase by the Amana settlers who came from New York State in the 1850s. The railroad and a stagecoach trail came through Homestead; there was only a depot where the train made its stop.
The settlers very quickly – and wisely – realized that this was a strategic spot. They needed to have full access to it in order to be able to ship their goods, such as the woolen fabrics, back east. So they contacted the elders remaining in New York, requesting their permission to purchase the land. Communication being as slow as it was back then, by the time word came back saying, “No, we don’t think you should make the purchase,” the Iowa settlers had already done so! Now they had a railroad and a depot but nowhere for the stationmaster to stay (remember, the nearest village was an hour away by oxcart!) So they built an inn, Die Heimat Inn!
It is difficult to make a direct translation for the name “Die Heimat.” It means “the home place” but it goes deeper than that; it means “the place of my roots” or “our homeland.” This building was erected in 1856. One hundred years later it was purchased by two local businessmen, one of whom was Harold Pitz. These gentlemen spent a great deal of time and effort redesigning the place. Over the years it had been used as a stagecoach stop and railroad inn, as an Amana communal kitchen and dining room, a bakery, and as a private residence. When they were finished, the inn had eighteen guest rooms and quarters for the innkeeper. It was called a “motor inn” in the early days; coffee and donuts were served in the morning, a precursor to the full breakfast being served today.
Since then there have been several owners, one of whom was Jim Lloyd, a radio broadcaster for WMT radio in Cedar Rapids. His cooking program was broadcast from the innkeeper’s quarters behind the current kitchen of the inn. Over the years owners have upgraded the facility, removing many of the 1960s fittings. They have worked steadily at this project, striving to improve the overall appearance and at the same time maintain the simple Amana style of décor as much as possible. You will notice the “Amana blue” walls nearly everywhere.
Current owners, Marc and June Hershberger, purchased Die Heimat in the summer of 2014. They continue upgrading the building and are creating a simple, yet beautiful and comfortable space for their guests. Marc and June welcome you to visit and become part of the rich history of Die Heimat Country Inn.