Friday, September 28, 2012

Photo Essay: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Bonnet on a peg board at Shaker Village - if only life could be this tidy.

Last weekend I stole away from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and spent a day visiting Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 23 miles from Lexington, Kentucky. It was a truly glorious fall day spent in the picturesque heart of Bluegrass country, and I hope my photos will convey some of the serenity of the Shaker Village.

Main Street of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

As a former American Studies major, I've always be interested in the Utopian religious societies that sprung up in the U.S., and I find the Shakers particularly fascinating because of their lasting influence on truly American design. I've always loved their furniture and admired their aspiration towards simplicity, and clearly I am not the only one because they have had a truly remarkable influence on American design even though their sect, due to the requirement of celibacy, was ultimately not sustainable, and of their flourishing villages only one is still in operation with five surviving members in Maine.

Pleasant Hill is a living history village, so along the way you'll encounter volunteers in traditional garb who demonstrate Shaker crafts, such as basket weaving here.

I love how here the white fences create such an orderly world.


Weathered and still beautiful.
Looking out of one of the windows in the Centre Family Dwelling.
One of the dining rooms in the Centre Family Dwelling -
doesn't this just make you feel all tidied up and ready to
sit down?
Shakers, upon joining the community, would be grouped
into "families" (male and females separately), who
lived together. So this is one "family's" dining room.

The spider and the jug - the only place where I felt the
Shakers might just have left, i.e. it felt lived in and
not too museum cleaned up.
It was that kind of a day for a gauzy curtain to sway in the breeze.
East Family Dwelling (1817) - the long and narrow windows are typical of early 19th century architecture, but the perfect symmetry is particular to the Shakers.
Double entrance as one side is for the women and the other for the men.
Looking out from the broom maker's window in the East Family Brethren's Shop.
A tad of whimsy from a clothes hanger.


  1. I've always wanted to go to Pleasant Hill. And I had wanted to try out that writing conference, but I have some other essential business brewing at home so I couldn't make it. I hope you'll tell us about what you learned there.

    On an unrelated note, how did you get your name watermark on your photos. I've been trying to figure out a way to do that on mine, but they all seem too intrusive.

    1. Julie - hi, nice to see you back here again. I might share something about the conference later on but I really only went to meet with an agent, so I didn't fully partake in all their offerings. I'll shoot you an email about how to do the watermark.

  2. Beautiful photos of Shaker village! Hope you were able to enjoy a meal there too--always lovely! The paddle boat ride on the river near the village is awesome in the fall as well.

    1. Kybarb - actually, if I manage to travel there again I'd love to stay overnight.

  3. I have a shaker designed bedroom set but didn't realize the original was from a religious community

    1. Louise - see, their influence went far and wide!

  4. Visiting from Shutter Sisters ... I live right down the road 10 miles from Shaker Village! So fun to see your photos here. I often go out there with my camera just to wander and shoot and connect with the peace and quiet.

    I'd love to have you visit me at:

    1. Dotti - thanks for visiting! I am tickled that you live right down the road from Shaker Village. I shall keep my eye on your blog. I'd love to see what Shaker Village looks like in winter.

  5. Hi,I found your blog via Shutter Sisters. Love your photo essay! Added to my bookmarks, and I look forward to visiting you more!

  6. I always liked the simplicity of Shaker furniture, but I've never had the opportunity to visit one of their communities. That is until I browsed through your pictures Annette. Thank you for the trip! :0