In 1774, a small group of Shakers left their native England in pursuit of religious freedom. Led by Mother Ann Lee, the Shakers arrived in America and settled near Watervliet, New York as well as in nearby New Lebanon.
A third Shaker community was established near Pittsfield, Massachusetts in the town of Hancock in 1790. Known as Hancock Shaker Village, it became a thriving Shaker community.
The Shaker movement reached its peak in the mid-1800’s, and by the early twentieth century, the population at Hancock Shaker Village had dwindled to about fifty. By 1960, only two elderly Sisters remained.
A group of interested citizens, composed mainly of local civic leaders, were selected by the Shakers to purchase the 974 acres of land and 18 dilapidated buildings that comprised Hancock Shaker Village. On June 29, 1960, the Shaker Central Ministry voted to discontinue the Pittsfield/Hancock family as an organized Shaker community. A few months later a corporation, chartered by the Commonwealth, was formed to preserve the history of the Shaker village.
On July 1, 1961, Hancock Shaker Village opened three of its buildings to the public as an outdoor living history museum. Dedicated to bringing the Shaker story to life and preserving its history for future generations, visitors can learn, experience, and reflect on the principled life as a Shaker.
Gradually, more buildings were restored and opened to the public, such as the Poultry House in 1962, the Laundry and Machine Shop in 1967, and the Round Stone Barn in 1968.
Today, the fully restored Village includes 18 historic buildings, medicinal and vegetable gardens, and thousands of examples of Shaker crafts, furniture, tools and clothes. There are daily tours, lectures, and workshops.
Here visitors delight in the grazing sheep, as seen from inside of the Round Stone Barn:
While on vacation a few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Ever since, I have wanted to visit Hancock Shaker Village in nearby Massachusetts. When an opportunity presented itself yesterday, I jumped at the chance to make the trip!
Thank you for taking the time to read this posting. Please come back next week to see more of my images of Hancock Shaker Village!