A panoramic shot of a room in Brubacher

Life Upstairs: Stories from Brubacher House's live-in hosts

Have you ever wondered...

What would it be like to live in a museum?

Over the years, the artifacts at Brubacher House have remained fairly constant, but life in the museum’s modern upstairs apartment has continued to change and evolve. Since before the museum’s beginning in 1979, there has been a rotation of live-in custodians and hosts who have occupied the upstairs portion of the museum.

Many couples who have served in this role have been lured by the interesting historical home, the country setting in an urban location, and also the promise of free accommodation for their host duties. 

Brubacher House’s main floor highlights the life of 19th-century Pennsylvania German Mennonite settlers, but the upstairs apartment includes modern conveniences and appliances.

Come and learn about the stories that are not told during the museum tour–stories of Life Upstairs.

Watch the online launch of the exhibit:

Remote video URL


The 2021 Life Upstairs Digital History Project was initially proposed by the current live-in hosts, Laura and Joshua Enns. 

The goal of this project was to collect and preserve the personal stories of past, present, and future live-in hosts, as well as their reflections on the evolution of the Brubacher House as a museum, in order to highlight the experience of hosts as a unique feature of the museum and a significant aspect of its 42-year history. 

Together in collaboration with Bethany Leis (2021 Digital Historian-in-Residence and former Brubacher House host) and Chris Steingart (Web Designer and former Brubacher House host), these stories and images were assembled to create the digital exhibit Life Upstairs.

List of works cited


Do you have questions or comments about this exhibit or one of its records? Do you have information or background stories to contribute?

Email us.


Friday, November 25, 2022

Open Call for Poems

Do you or your relatives have self-composed German Mennonite poetry that you’re interested in sharing with the community? We’d love to hear from you!

Bethany Leis

Bethany smiles, wearing a grey and blue sweater, stnading in a backyard garden with trees

2021 Digital Historian-in-Residence

Bethany Leis is a former live-in host of Brubacher House, who has a strong interest in Mennonite history. She catalogues library materials and engages in numerous ad hoc research projects. Bethany, her husband Brandon and their three children, Madeline, Amelia and Ezra, currently reside in Kitchener.

Jacquie Reimer

Jacqui laughs in this picture, she sits among large leaved plants in a white room

Principal Photographer

Jacquie is a wedding photographer, currently living in downtown Kitchener. In 2013, she bought her first camera just before moving into Brubacher House, which was a wonderful place to learn about and study light, resulting in thousands of photos of varying qualities. Jacquie and her partner Karl lived at Brubacher House from 2013 to 2017 and enjoyed ringing the dinner bell for all to hear.

Laura and Joshua Enns

Laura and Josh smile for the camera, their child sits on Josh's shoulders

Current Live-in Hosts

Laura and Joshua Enns have served as Live-in Hosts of Brubacher House since 2017. They love taking care of the beautiful fieldstone house and gardens, hosting tours and community events, and following geese around the University of Waterloo campus with their curious 2-year-old, Oran.

Chris Steingart

Chris, wearing a tux, stands in front of a field stone wall

Web Designer

Chris and his wife Jillian were hosts at Brubacher House from 2004-2006. In the years that followed, he launched a career as a freelance Graphic and Web Designer along with a family – welcoming Rowan and Maya. He’s grateful for the opportunity to create this virtual tool to share these stories and experiences with others who are curious about the lives of the live-in hosts.