MISSION: MELLOW OUT
Hancock Shaker Village: Peace,
love and simplicity
much has changed in the 200-year-old
Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield,
Massachusetts since the Shaking Quakers settled here in
1783. Known as Shakers for short, this offshoot of the
Quaker religion was led by the visionary Ann
Lee, whose followers established a pre-Rainbow Coalition “city of peace”
that still radiates the purity and simplicity that made
the Shakers famous.
Hancock Shaker Village, one of
the 18 Shaker villages that developed as a result of the
Shaker movement in the U.S., is
surrounded by 1200 of peaceful, lush acres.
You’ll feel your blood pressure decrease as soon
as you step out of the car and the wildflower-scented
wind wafts by.
In the village you can stroll between 20
historic original buildings, each a stunning example of
Shaker architecture. The Round Stone Barn, considered
the most famous Shaker building ever built, is
especially soothing as it projects the masterful calm of
Inside the buildings you can
gaze upon examples of the furniture, crafts, textiles
and tools that earned the Shakers the respect and
admiration of their peers. Shaker furniture has become
one of the
most sought after and highly prized American
antiques, with some pieces selling for over $400,000.
Oprah Winfrey, an enthusiastic collector of Shaker
furniture, reportedly just paid $230,000 for a small
chest and $30,000 for an oval box.
Ann Lee, also known as Mother
Ann, was lightyears ahead of her time as a social
architect. For one thing, women and men had equal
stature, authority and respect in the Shaker community
150 years before women even got the vote in America. You
can see this equality reflected in the mirror-image
design of the men’s and women’s sides of the Brick
As advanced as the Shakers
were socially, their most significant contribution might
have been in the areas of design and technology. Among
their amazing inventions are powered water transport
systems, the circular saw (invented by a woman), an
early washing machine, a metal chimney cap that blocks
rain, and another invention you’ve probably
yourself—the clothes pin! Examples of these and many
other inventions are on display.
There are no overnight
accommodations in the village itself, but you can sample
Shaker hospitality by reserving your own Shaker Supper,
beginning with wine and cheese served in the Brick
Dwelling, and followed by a candlelight buffet dinner in
the Believers’ Dining Room featuring traditional dishes
like pot roast of beef with cranberry chutney, ham baked
in cider and herbed rice with roasted potatoes and
rosemary. The evening ends with a program of Shaker
music. Shaker Suppers will be served on September 23, on
October 7, 8, and 21 and on November 25. Advance
reservations are required. To reserve yours, head to
30-October 1: The Annual
October 6-8: Spinning & Weaving Weekend
October 8: Shaker Waterpower Tour
Hancock Shaker Village is
located on Route 20 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, just
west of the junction of Routes 20 and 41. Go to
HancockShakerVillage.org for specific driving
directions. The closest major airports are Albany, New
York, and Hartford, Connecticut. New York City, Boston
and Providence, Rhode Island airports are also within
easy driving distance.
Can’t make the scene?
You can take your own walking
tour around the village 24/7. Explore each building in any order you like using the “virtual
tour” feature on the website.
Did you know?
celibate and never marry. The only way they can increase
their flock is to accept outsiders. There are four known
Shakers today. Want to be number five?