The Ephrata Cloister: A National Historic Landmark

The Ephrata Cloister was founded in 1732 by Conrad Beissel, a German immigrant, in Lancaster County, PA. The cloister published the largest book in Colonial America in 1748. It was 1500 pages and weighed 13 pounds.

The monks and the sisters slept on benches for six hours per night, interrupted by a church service from midnight to two am. After a day of work and prayer, they shared one meal a day of barley in milk with vegetables.

They developed their own ornate calligraphy, called frakturschriften, and their own a capella choral music. The printing press produced books, pamphlets, and sheet music from 1745-1792.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the Ephrata Cloister in 1941 for restoration and preservation.


building at the cloisters

close up barn

tree at cloisters

Ephrata Cloisters Building

Exhibit description

letters in calligraphy

work room with quills and writing desks

Conrad Beissel plaque

 Ephrata Cloisters



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