Ministry Shop, Hancock Shaker Village (1873)

Ministry Shop

Shaker communities were guided by two Elders and two Eldresses who together were known as the Ministry. Hancock Shaker Village was overseen by a Ministry that also had responsibility for the Shaker communities in Tyringham, Massachusetts and Enfield, Connecticut. Like the Shaker brethren and sisters, the Elders and Eldresses were also required to perform hand-labor. The Ministry had an early workshop at Hancock Shaker Village that was moved to north side of Route 20 in 1829 when the Brick Dwelling was constructed. By 1848 there were two Ministry shops, one for Elders and one for Eldresses. A new Ministry Shop was built in 1873 on the foundation of one of these earlier shops. The Ministry Shop was later used as a home for Shakers who had been displaced by the closure of the Enfield, Connecticut community in 1917. Read More

Tannery, Hancock Shaker Village (1835)


An earlier building that had served the Hancock Shaker Village as a Cider House was enlarged in 1835 (the foundation wall has a stone inscribed with the date 1835) for use as a Tannery. By 1875, the Shakers were unable to compete with other large tanneries in the area. The building was then converted into a cider press and a forge was installed in the north end. The upper floor of the structure was later used as a carpenters shop.

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Meetinghouse, Hancock Shaker Village (1793)

The Meetinghouse, Hancock Shaker Village

The original Meetinghouse at Hancock Shaker Village was built in 1786. To gain more space, its first roof, a gambrel, was altered to a gable roof in 1871. By the late nineteenth century, the Shakers primarily used the meeting room in the Brick Dwelling for worship services. In the early twentieth century the Meetinghouse was being used for storage. It was taken down in 1938. In 1962, after Hancock Shaker Village became a museum, it acquired the Meetinghouse from the former Shaker Village in Shirley. The Shirley Meetinghouse was then moved to Hancock. Built in 1793 by by Moses Johnson, who had constructed the Hancock Meetinghouse (among many others), the Shirley Meetinghouse is the only eighteenth-century Shaker Meetinghouse to remain unaltered in its original firm.

Sisters’ Dairy and Weave Shop, Hancock Shaker Village (1790)

Sisters' Dairy and Weave Shop

Probably built in the 1790s, the Sisters’ Dairy and Weave Shop at Hancock Shaker Village is where the Shaker Sisters produced butter and cheese. It was constructed over a natural spring which provided cold water used to cool the milk products. The second floor of the building was added after 1820 and used as a weave loft, where the Sisters made clothing, rugs and bonnets.

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Brethren’s Shop, Hancock Shaker Village (1813)

Brethren's Shop

Each male Shaker was expected to practice one or more trades. Built circa 1813, the Brethren’s Shop at Hancock Shaker Village was one of several buildings used as a workshop by the brethren. Inside they made such products as chairs, baskets, shoes, brooms and the distinctive Shaker oval boxes. Paint analysis undertaken in 2007 led to the restoration of the color used when the building was painted yellow in 1845. Read More

Brick Poultry House, Hancock Shaker Village (1878)

Brick Poultry House

Built in 1878, the Brick Poultry House at Hancock Shaker Village is a particularly fine one, attesting to the value the Shakers placed on their poultry. The many south-facing windows provided warmth and light to the building. The interior of the Brick Poultry House is used by the Hancock Shaker Village for changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

Brick Dwelling, Hancock Shaker Village (1830)

Brick Dwelling

The Brick Dwelling at Hancock Shaker Village replaced two earlier dwelling structures, dating to the 1790s. The Brick Dwelling was built in 1830-1831 and was designed by Elder William Deming. The building’s basement was used for the kitchen and food storage and the first floor contained various waiting rooms, with the large dining room and the meeting room at opposite ends. The upper floors contained the separated brethren and sisters retiring rooms (Elders and Eldresses retiring rooms were on the second floor). The restored Brick Dwelling can be visited as part of the Hancock Shaker Village museum.

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