Monday, May 30, 2011
The Values Of A Simple, Pastoral Life
While we were touring the Berkshires we visited a place that turned back the clock to a simpler, more pastoral time -- the Hancock Shaker Village.
Hancock Shaker Village is a National Historic Landmark that preserves and presents the legacy of the Shakers' at their community in Hancock, Massachusetts. Hancock opened as a living history museum in 1961 and is the largest Shaker museum in the East. It features 20 historic buildings, extensive gardens, and a significant collection of Shaker artifacts. In addition, the village includes Shaker craft demonstrations, historic breeds of livestock, and its restored 19th-century water system.
The Shakers got their name because of the unusual shaking movements they made when in intense, collective prayer.
They were a religious order that believed in pacifism, celibacy, communal living and gender equality.
After reaching peak membership in the 1840s, the Shaker movement gradually dwindled, partially due to the urban migration that accompanied the Industrial Revolution, and by the westward migration of New England's youth.
By the early twentieth century, the population of the village had fallen to around 50, most of whom were children. The remaining Shakers sold off their excess land, and many buildings were destroyed.
But much of the village still remains and it is preserved and open to the public as a living museum. It's a great place to visit and contemplate a simpler time.
Photos copyright 2011 by Dan Cirucci.