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Get Away to Shakertown

Updated on September 1, 2012

Kentucky Get Aways

I have recently moved back to my home state, and have decided to see some sites I haven’t seen in years. Also, I wanted to show off beautiful places in Kentucky to my husband, a transplant from Texas. There are places in Kentucky that have been updated and have become more of a tourist destination than they were before I married. I was anxious to see these too. This summer we decided to take a short ride from Louisville to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. I had heard about the Shakers my whole life, and studied them briefly in a college history class. This was a chance to look into the way they lived.

Historic America

Williamsburg, VA has always been the place to go for the past 40 years 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. I will begin by telling you that 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, efficient, and worked very well. The Shakers produced lovely furniture and woven cloth, but they also made the vast majority of items needed to maintain their life, and recycled to maintain their community. It also made great economic sense as their community and what they produced had to provide for everyone.

Historic Shakertown Building
Historic Shakertown Building | Source
Active Barn at Shakertwon
Active Barn at Shakertwon | Source
Spinning Wheel
Spinning Wheel | Source
Thread Shop
Thread Shop | Source
Broom maker
Broom maker | Source

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

These interpreters give group talks at scheduled times, but they are most helpful on a one to one basis. Everyone was glad to share their vast knowledge of the people, land, and history. They also have artisans that work, bake bread in an outdoor oven that tourist can share, and make brooms. The intricate patterns made by the weavers are a wonder to behold.

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 the tourist.

Put this on your list as another must do in Kentucky


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