The average person likely knows little about Amish communities in the United States beyond what they see in movies and on TV. Most people are probably aware that Amish people reject modern technology, choosing instead to live in farming collectives that have changed little in several centuries. Many people also likely know that some Amish people supplement their farm work by selling outdoor furniture, such as Adirondack chairs. However, the overwhelming image of the Amish is one of old-world simplicity and even isolation from the rest of the world.
Because of this, many people may be surprised to learn that members of the Heuvelton, NY Amish community helped a non-Amish, or “English”, couple rebuild their garage at the end of August, which had been destroyed by fire earlier in the summer. At first glance, this news may raise several questions: Why did the Amish reach out beyond their community in this situation? And how did these people, who are often barred from driving automobiles by their community’s rules, know how to rebuild garages and sheds? The answer to the former brings us back to a troubling news story with a happy ending: in mid-August, two young Amish girls were kidnapped from their family’s farm stand while their relatives milked cows nearby. Frightened by the news coverage their crime incurred, the kidnappers released the girls the following day in nearby Bigelow, NY, where they were found by the English couple. The homeowners returned the girls to their community, and as thanks, their family and neighbors banded together to help rebuild the burned garage. This act can be seen as a significant gesture between the Amish and English society, which are so often seen as opposites. As for the skill the Amish clearly have in rebuilding garages and sheds, their experience doubtlessly stems from their famous skill in woodworking and barn construction.
While many people prefer Amish furniture for its wide array of styles and custom woods, modern garages and sheds are typically made from metal. While this material is sufficient in some cases, many metal sheds and garages have thin walls that are easily dented. Because garages and sheds are used to store a variety of items, from tools and hardware to vehicles, this tendency towards damage can put a person’s belongings at risk. In contrast, sturdily-built storage building can protect possessions from weather and light with minimum care.
Currently, the U.S. wooden building manufacturing industry generates as much as $200 million across the nation every year. Amish woodworkers have become an integral part of this business, building and selling everything from Amish garage kits to Amish built barns, garages and more. This success is necessary, as the Amish are required to pay the same property, income and education taxes as an average American, which a farm may not be sufficient to support on its own. Given this level of professionalism and success, one thing is certain: the garage the Heuvelton Amish community built for the couple is likely high quality and will last for many years to come.