New Harmony, Indiana

New Harmony, Indiana

Like a River, Not a Lake: A Memoir
Jane Blaffer Owen
Edited by Nancy Mangum McCaslin
Afterwords by Anne Dale Owen and Jane Dale Owen
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/9/2015
Format: cloth 400 pages, 51 color illus., 54 b&w illus.
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-01624-9
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For nearly seven decades, Jane Blaffer Owen was the driving force behind the restoration and revitalization of the town of New Harmony, Indiana. In this delightful memoir, Blaffer Owen describes the transformational effect the town had on her life. An oil heiress from Houston, she met and married Kenneth Dale Owen, great-great-grandson of Robert Owen, founder of a communal society in New Harmony. When she visited the then dilapidated town with her husband in 1941, it was love at first sight, and the story of her life and the life of the town became intertwined. Her engaging account of her journey to renew the town provides glimpses into New Harmony’s past and all of its citizens—scientists, educators, and naturalists—whose influence spread far beyond the town limits. And there are fascinating stories of the artists, architects, and theologians who became part of Blaffer Owen’s life at New Harmony, where, she says, “My roots could sink deeply and spread.”

Author Bio

Jane Blaffer Owen (1915–2010) was a Houston oil heiress who grew up traveling the globe. A sophisticate who studied at Bryn Mawr, the Washington School of Diplomacy, the Kinkaid School, and the Ethel Walker School, she has also received accolades and honorary degrees from many universities. She was recipient of the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and of the State of Indiana’s Sachem Award for her lifelong dedication to enhancing the landmark historic community of New Harmony. In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized her accomplishments in New Harmony with its highest honor, the Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award.


"Owen's memoir is poetically told and is a powerful testament by an extraordinary woman who had a higher purpose. For her, sculpture was a prayer that could awaken the soul." —Don Gummer, sculptor

"New Harmony reflects Jane Owen’s unique ability to combine contemplation with action, making the town an eternal altar that cherishes the past and looks toward the future." —Meryl Streep

"This memoir is Jane Blaffer Owen's final gift to her beloved New Harmony. She consciously chose to devote precious days, months, and years from the end of her long life to reveal the origins and symbolism of the artistic, architectural, and landscape legacy she brought to her adopted home." —
Donald Pitzer, author of New Harmony: Then and Now (IUP, 2011)

"Jane Blaffer Owen created a modern cultural enclave that amalgamates the vital history and spirit of a bygone era with the creative energies of the present day." —Duane Hampton, author of Mark Hampton: An American Decorator

"The book goes beyond providing a history of New Harmony’s twentieth-century revitalization to offer rich insight into the vision, idealism, and sheer hard work that characterized the utopian project." —Indiana Magazine of History

"Jane Blaffer Owen was deeply committed to her mentor Paul Tillich as well as to his significant theological contributions. Her reflections on New Harmony bring both Mrs. Owen and her admiration for Tillich to life again." —Frederick J. Parrella, Professor of Theology, Santa Clara University

"Anne Dale Owen’s reminiscence is touching, authentic, and truly revealing of the woman beloved by all who met her. Jane Dale Owen imparts the dedication and respect she had for her mother’s generosity of spirit." —Donna Mosher, former Editor-in-Chief, Science of Mind

"Jane Blaffer Owen was a remarkable visionary and a woman of action. Both she and George MacLeod, a charismatic giant of the 20th century Church, shared a commitment to "creative restoration," the rebuilding of historic buildings-and indeed traditions–for a modern age." —Ron Ferguson, author of
George MacLeod: Founder of the Iona Community

"This is a beautifully written and deeply affecting memoir by someone who is not only a mystic, mother, wife, daughter, and scholar, but a singular force unleashed upon the world." —Susan M. Bielstein, author of Permissions, A Survival Guide

"Jane Blaffer Owen and Jacques Lipchitz shared a commitment to deep and peaceful collaboration among religions. It inspired Owen's tireless work to support and bring together leaders of many traditions. My father's inscription into the bronze Notre Dame de Liesse, that stands in New Harmony's Roofless Church, the Abbey of St. Columba on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, and the Church of Assy in France, resonates with Jane Owen's hopes. It reads,'Jacob Lipchitz, Jew, faithful to the religion of his ancestors, has made this Virgin to foster understanding between men on earth, that the life of the spirit may prevail.'" —Lolya Lipchitz, daughter of Jacques Lipchitz, sculptor

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Table of Contents

Foreword John Philip Newell
Foreword J. Pittman McGehee
Preface Jane Blaffer Owen
Acknowledgments Jane Blaffer Owen
Historical Note Connie A. Weinzapfel
From Spoken to Written Words Nancy Mangum McCaslin
1. Twin Vows
2. Indian Mound
3. The Sixth Generation
4. Harmonist House
5. Harmonist Church and School
6. Acquiring the Granary and Mansion
7. May Day Fête
8. Lipchitz
9. Enter Paul Tillich
10. Polio Epidemic
11. Sir George MacLeod
12. Iona
13. Assy
14. Kilbinger House
15. Poet’s House and Beyond
16. Violets Down the Lane
17. Enter Philip Johnson
18. Cornerstone Dedication
19. May Day Dedication of the Roofless Church and Barrett-Gate House
20. Tillich Visits Houston
21. MacLeod’s Dedication of the Lipchitz Gate
22. Estranged and Reunited: The New Being
23. The Undying Dead
24. Paul Tillich Park
25. Paul Tillich Commemorative Service
26. Open Windows
27. Tumbling Walls
28. Glass House
29. Orchard House
30. Rapp-Maclure-Owen House Restoration
31. Art and Carol’s Garden
Editor’s Note
Life Was To Celebrate Anne Dale Owen
Through a Child’s Eyes Jane Dale Owen
Biography Jane Blaffer Owen and Kenneth Dale Owen
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