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Hancock Shaker Village
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
July 21, 2005

We spent a delightful day at the Hancock Shaker Village, in Pittsfield, MA. 
When you enter, the greeters take your money ($15 per person, children free) and provide a map of the village and list of demonstrations and activities taking place that day.  As you walk down the boardwalk, you see the round barn in the distance.
Boardwalk to the Round Barn, Hancock Shaker Village
It was built in 1826.  It stabled 52 dairy cows on the ground floor, facing the center, which was the haymow.  Manure dropped through square metal covered hinged trapdoors to the basement where it was stored until needed for fertilizer.   In the 1930's the ell seen below  was added.  Today it houses pigs, chickens, sheep, and several different historic breeds of cattle.
round barn
In the background beyond this flower garden is the Laundry/Machine Shop (1790), on the left, and on the right is the "Brick Dwelling" (1830).

Butterfly. Laundry/Machine Shop. Brick Dwelling

In the Laundry / Machine Shop, there was a demonstration of the turbine powered machinery.

We saw the lathe and bandsaw in action.  This building is one of the earliest there, and was built with less than the usual Shaker plan and organization.  On the hill about 50 feet higher than the building were many springs.  They dug a pond and made an aqueduct over the highway to bring the water to an overshot wheel.  This provided about 1 1/2 horsepower.  Later, they heard about turbines and bought one but it needed more water than the aqueduct was providing.   The Shakers believed in excellence even if it was expensive, and when they heard that a company in Boston was making 16 inch iron pipe, they bought it, even though it was very expensive, then drained the pond so they could install the pipe, and buried the pipe, including going under the highway.  Then they stepped the pipe down to 12 inches.  Once the pond was refilled, this new system gave them 3 1/2 horsepower and powered a lot of machinery.

Workshop powered by water

The brick dwelling housed 100 sisters and brethren.
Most of those who dwelt here were members of the Shakers, but there were also children.  Children were not members, and did not live as a family, since everyone was family.  They lived in the same style as the adults.  At 18, a child could leave or could commit to the group.  At 21 they had to make another commitment.  There were also orphans.  It was not unheard of for a child to be found on the doorstep. 
Today, a 94 year old woman who had been an orphan in the village came back to see her childhood  home.  The curators were delighted to have an opportunity to hear her experiences.

The Brick Dwelling building included kitchens, dining room, meeting room, bedrooms, some offices and infirmary.

This room is the tailoring area.  As everywhere, the furniture is wonderful, and there is more than you can absorb at any one visit.
tailoring room
During the day, there were lots of demonstrations.  In this meeting room, I enjoyed a lecture/performance of Shaker music and dance, ending with everyone singing "Simple Gifts".
meeting room
The Shakers kept men and women separate but near.  They also appreciated symmetry, so there are matching staircases, and the dining room and meeting rooms seat women and girls on one side, and men and boys on the other side.


The following  picture shows one side of the dining room.   In the corner of the room are dumb-waiters to bring food up from the kitchen in the basement.
The windows have pegs to hold them open.  The pegs also allow for the windows to be removed for washing.

dining room

In 1961, the remaining Shakers in Hancock were unable to continue.   Rather than sell to developers, they sold to a group who continue to run and restore the Village today.   

still life with wheelbarrow

e-mail us here.

Here's a link to all the rest of the grandkids' pages.

This has been a spring and summer of getting around.

You can see those pictures:
Hancock Shaker Village
We watched them set up the Big Top at the Circus
We went to the Utica Zoo
Then we went to the Syracuse Zoo
Wickwire House in Cortland
A trip to babysit the grandkids
A visit to Boston to see a Red Sox Game
Drive through Edmeston area to see the animals
Ithaca Herbert F. Johnson museum trip
And there are lots of pictures of our trip out west.

Hot adventures
from other summers:

Chittenango Falls
Fort Stanwix

Other interests: 


Leslie designed a webpage for:
Stride of Central New York

Flower and Garden 
Flowers, etc
Pink and Purple 
June 6, 2000
July, 2000 


Flower and Garden 
Animals hummingbirds
robin baby
Insects  - moth pictures - polyphemus
Hummingbird Moth
Oxford House
Tree Disaster
In Autumn    Before/After Exterior
July 98
Christmas 98
Liz/George Wedding
Wendy & Sam

Links to all the Baby pages for Frankie and Peri


Published 7/21/05
Photos by Leslie or David

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