The Shaker community in Harvard began in the 1780s and flouished in the mid-nineteenth century. After the Harvard Shaker Village finally closed in 1917, the original Shaker Trustee’s Office, built in 1794, was moved in 1920 by Clara Endicott Sears to the Fruitlands Museum to become a Shaker Museum.
At the Hancock Shaker Village is an original Horse Barn. It originally stood on a nearby lot owned by the Shakers. It was dismantled and reerected at its current location in 1850 by Matthew Criteden, a non-Shaker. The barn was known as Elder Louis’ barn because Elder Louis Basting kept teams of carriage horses in the barn. The slate roof probably dates to 1876, when a number of buildings at the village were re-roofed in slate.
The Hancock Shaker school district at Hancock Shaker Village was formally established on March 2nd, 1820. Initially serving children in the Shaker Village, the Shakers’ schoolhouse was later used as a public school. By 1934 the original school house had been sold, moved just east of the village and converted into a private home. The Hancock Shaker Village museum created a replica in 1976 based on measured drawings of the original structure.
The oldest part of the Laundry and Machine Shop building at Hancock Shaker Village dates to 1790, when the structure may have been used as a dwelling by the Goodrich family, whose owner became a convert. The Shakers positioned this building to take advantage of the penstock, or incoming water supply pipe. The building was moved in 1829 to make room for the brick dwelling. The Laundry and Machine Shop is unusual in that both the Shaker Brothers and Sisters did their work under the same roof, albeit separated into the female laundry and the male machine/woodworking shops. Both groups utilized power provided by an 1858 water turbine. An addition was built on the machine shop in 1839. Read More
The Shakers at Hancock Shaker Village had a number of ice houses constructed in the nineteenth century, but the one that survives was built in 1894 to replace an earlier one of 1866. Sister Emoretta Belden described the new ice house in the Shaker Manifesto of December 1894:
We have long anticipated the possession of a new ice-house, with modern improvements. Within the last two months it has been erected. The building is 22×34 ft. with brick walls 18 ft. high, laid in red-colored mortar. One half of the lower story is finished inside with Southern pine, to be used for cold storage. The ice-hall and chamber will hold about two hundred tons of ice. The outside wood-work is painted a light gray color, and presents quite a nice appearance. There are rooms for vegetables, fruits, meats, and any things that we may wish to keep for a long or short time.
Built into a hill side to use the natural insulation of the earth, the south side of the Ice House is smaller than the cooler north side, to minimize the sun’s impact. Cool air from the ice chambers vents directly into food storage rooms, and a cupola on the roof allows the warmer air to escape. For insulation, the building has double and triple hung doors and on the lower level are triple-glazed windows. Read More
As the numbers of Shakers at the Hancock Shaker Village began to decline in the second half of the nineteenth century, farm workers were hired. These men ate and received their daily work assignments at the Trustee’s Office and lodged in a separate building. After the original Hired Men’s building at Hancock burned down, the Shakers utilized another structure, built before 1820 and originally used as a seed shop, which they moved to its current location to become the new Hired Men’s Shop in 1907. Read More
The Garden Tool Shed at Hancock Shaker Village was originally built as a screened-in structure in 1922 where the Shaker Sisters could relax and drink tea. Such a building, intended for recreation, would never have been built by the more austere earlier shakers. Moved in 1961 to serve as the ticket booth of the Hancock Shaker Village museum, it was later relocated to the foundations of an old tool shed and is now used by the museum’s garden staff. Read More