about the society

We’re Dedicated Volunteers Intent On Preserving The Homestead For Future Generations.

The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society was established in 1992 by a group of volunteers determined to save the Heinrich Knauss house and barn after having spent the last several decades vacant and in disrepair. We continue that work today, focused on restoring the Homestead to its authentic 18th century self.

1723 | The Knauss Family Settles In Whitemarsh Township, PA

The Knauss Family Settles In Whitemarsh Township, PA

The Knauss Family Arrives in America From Dudelsheim, Germany, First Settling in Whitemarsh Township, PA.

1741 | Jacob Ehrenhardt and Sebastian Knauss Etablish What Would Become Emmaus

A New Community Is Born

Moravian Missionaries Branch Out Beyond Bethlehem To A Place Where Community Life Centered Around A Small Log Church Built in 1742 By Jacob Ehrenhardt and Sebastian Knauss, Making Them The Founders of What Would Become Emmaus.

1759 | Joseph Spangenberg Names the Moravian Settlement Emmaus

Emmaus Gets A Name

Moravian Bishop Joseph Spangenberg Names The Settlement “Emmaus”. For A Century It Remained A Closed Village, Focused On Education, Religion, And Music.

1777 | The Knauss Homestead Is Built

Heinrich Knauss Builds the House

Built for his father Sebastian, the Homestead would be called home by seven generations of the Knauss family, the last being Mary Ellen Knauss, Widow Of Herman Knauss, who lived there until her death at age 81.


History of the Knauss Homestead

In 1777, Heinrich Knauss, son of villager founder Sebastian Knauss, built the Knauss House on a two hundred acre parcel of land purchased by his father in 1747 (Barba). Since its construction in 1777, the Knauss House remained in the family for 158 years, being passed down to a family member upon the death of the previous Knauss owner.

Mary Ellen Knauss owned and lived within the house the longest of any family member. She was eighteen when she moved into the house in 1866 and died when she was eighty-seven, a total of sixty-nine years of occupation; her death in 1935 marked the end of Knauss ownership.

a snapshot of where we’ve been

A majority of changes to the property have been dated to the 1930s and 1940s, possible shortly after the Knauss family relinquished ownership of the property. These changes include the infilling of the fireplace, the addition of countertops, cabinetry, and sink in the kitchen area, and addition of the gable door hood on the northwest façade.

Under the ownership of Verna Mareks beginning in 1935, the Knauss House also received the addition of a modem bathroom on the second floor. Sometime between 1935 and 1970, an oil heating system, enclosed screen porch along the south façade, and a new exterior chimney along the center of the north façade were installed. Around this time, all first floor interior doors and trim were stripped of paint and several plaster ceilings were removed to expose the floor joists, likely as part of a misguided effort to restore the house to its earlier look.

Continually occupied up until 1970, the building stood vacant for 37 years. The house originally resided on the outskirts of the village, but has since been incorporated into the Borough. As a result of the village’s expansion, the original Knauss holdings of 200 acres has dwindled to 15.39 acres, with the house functioning as a historic house museum set within the Knauss House Emmaus Community Park.

our vision for the future of the homestead

As with any historic home, there is a constantly evolving list of restoration priorities, both internal and external, that are critical for the stability and safety of the home. Our members are the reason we can set that list of priorities each year, and work toward the most historically accurate and appropriate methods of restoration to maintain the authenticity of the Homestead.

Beyond that list of ongoing projects, we want to forge ahead and create a new future for generations to enjoy. We want to be able to offer the Homestead as a gathering place for families, friends, and organizations seeking to learn more about the history of Emmaus, of its founding families, and early American life in the Moravian tradition. 

That means collecting, documenting, and communicating around all of the incredible genealogical research and resources we have, as well as physical artifacts, photos, and even family bibles. Our team of volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that these items can be used to strengthen our community ties, develop our family trees and lineage details, and connect people all over the world who can trace their roots back to the Homestead and Emmaus as a whole.

Whether it’s a group focused on genealogy, art, antiques, or even ghost stories and painting – we want our historic treasure to be able to be enjoyed and provide a truly authentic glimpse of life as it was at the time of the birth of America.

We can’t wait to show it to you! You can schedule a tour by contacting us here.

Meet The Team

Board of Directors

Gene Clock


Lisa Iobst


Kevin Dunn, Sr.


Susan Westfall


Maggie Fischer

Vice President

Linda Burkhardt


David Roth, Esq.


Tess Jones


John Schmoyer


Michael Henry


Tyler Wursta


Maryellen Iobst


Kevin Dunn, Jr.


Richard Knauss



Dave Biles

shelter house


Volunteering Opportunities

December 2022 | Old Fashioned Christmas

Have a hankering to decorate the heck out of the Homestead with us this year? Great! We’re looking for a few festive folks to help us hang lights, put up trees, and all kinds of great stuff. Please let us know if you’d like to participate and we’ll pay you in baked goods and warm apple cider!

ONGOING | Genealogy Research

We’re putting a renewed focus on our role as a community resource for ancestry and genealogy information. If you’ve got a treasure trove of information on Knauss Family descendants, or any of the founding families of Emmaus, we’d love to talk to you about adding your information to our archives. 

Sign Up To Volunteer With Us!

Are There Any Areas That Interest You?


We Can’t Do It Alone.

Buss Paints

The House Is Open By Appointment

CALL US AT  484-358-9109

Guided Tours Available!