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Shakertown: Who Were the Shakers?

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I love Kentucky, but I was away for many years. I am now enjoying on the sites that Kentucky has to offer.

Shaker Village

There are many beautiful places to visit in Kentucky. A short drive from Louisville is Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. This is a perfect place to learn about the life those that were practicing Shakers.

Shakers brought their religion and lifestyle to Kentucky in 1805.

Some of the tenants of the Shakers life were:

  • a celibate lifestyle
  • equality of men and woman
  • religious worship was charismatic and their music also original

Shakers were also known for:

  • their simple lifestyle
  • their distinctive furniture
  • Innovative tools to help their community

Historic America

Williamsburg, VA has always been the place to go when my husband and I needed an American History fix. Over the years many things in Williamsburg have improved, but it is now very crowded, expensive, and commercial.

Shakertown is none of these. I was told by one of the “period” interpreters that the gentleman who was instrumental in setting up Williamsburg was asked to come out of retirement and work his magic at Shakertown. What a wonderful job he and the others that put the living history museum together have done.

Communal Life

The Shakers' story may appear to be a story of religion only, but it is also a study in communal living.

  • They had a distinct way of organizing, working, sharing, and recycling that was unique and efficient.
  • The Shakers produced lovely furniture and woven cloth. Both items were made to be used to the advantage of all members of the village.
  • They also made the vast majority of items needed to maintain their life and recycled to maintain their community.
  • They had a great economic sense. What they produced had to provide for everyone in the community.

Visiting this Wonderful City of the Past

There is a world of activities.

  • Thirteen buildings are restored and used as a vacation getaways.
  • Holidays at Shakertown go from Christmas to St Patrick Day to a Reading Getaway and hold something for everyone.
  • Spend a day with a professional interpreter of Shaker life, or spend a weekend soaking up trails, kayaking, ending with dinner at the Trustees' Table.
  • Carriage rides and hayrides can be a fun adventure on a weekend.
  • The rooms are reasonable and hold the charm of Shaker furniture.
  • Kayaking and hiking are also available.
Historic Shakertown Building

Historic Shakertown Building

Active Barn at Shakertwon

Active Barn at Shakertwon

Spinning Wheel

Spinning Wheel

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Thread Shop

Thread Shop

Broom maker

Broom maker

Learning the Lay of the Land and People

Interpreters give talks at scheduled times, but they are most helpful on a one to one basis. Theh have a vast knowledge of the people, land, and history.

There are artisans that work the land, bake bread in an outdoor oven with the help of tourists, and make brooms.

The intricate patterns made by the weavers are a wonder to behold.

Herbal Medicines

What I found remarkable was all the herbal medicines they studied, produced and was used by the community. These products are often used today.

We seem to think we only recently found these items as useful for complaints from headaches to toothache. They sell several books in the gift shop and the one on Herbal Medicine is on my must have list.

What You Will See

There are 34 buildings (14 original) that have been restored with many holding original furniture and textiles.

  • There are animals and barns visitors can walk through at their own pace learning from the keepers how they care for the goats, cows, and horses.
  • There is a lovely restaurant on the property that takes reservations, although you are welcome to wait for a table. The menu is small but the food and atmosphere is wonderful. I was glad I called on the way there to make a reservation for lunch.

The entrance cost is nominal when compared to most of the historic cities that have interpreters that interact with tourists.

Ending an Experiment in Communal Living

Over the years, society changed, people died, others decided to leave, and there were few converted to the Shaker religion.

  • There is one Shaker commune left in Maine.
  • The remaining Shaker communities are museums.

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