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Shaker Village – Pleasant Hill

September 27, 2010

This past weekend my wife and I took a short vacation down to the Pleasant Hill Shaker Village that is just west of Lexington Kentucky. We made it to the village in the mid-afternoon of Friday. We were able to see a couple of the staged “scenes” where actors dressed the part of the Shakers and carried out some of the typical tasks that the Shakers did on a daily basis. We finished up Friday night with a nice candlelit diner before turning in for the night in our room there inside the village. We woke up Saturday to a delicious breakfast buffet with all of the good American breakfast staples including smoked bacon, sausage patties, potatoes, and of course biscuits and gravy! Although both the diner and breakfast were tasty and filling, they were a bit on the pricey side. We toured the remainder of the village Saturday morning and early afternoon then wrapped up our day with a ride on the Kentucky river aboard the Dixie Belle “steam boat.” All and all it was an extremely relaxing and peaceful weekend that both my wife and I enjoyed.

However I must admit that, being someone who is becoming more and more obsessed with woodworking, I did plan this trip partially with the intent of checking out the woodworking that Shakers are known for! Unfortunately I found myself a bit disappointed. The only woodworking activities going on was one guy coopering a piece of cedar to make a shallow bucket and a man making a few Shaker boxes. I was hoping that they would have also had someone making furniture of some sort. =( I do want to mention that both of these individuals did appear to be talented craftsmen dedicated to their craft and their work at the village was appreciated!!

The village did have several original pieces of Shaker furniture along with some authentic reproductions all around. One thing that surprised me was how tall most of the furniture was. Several of the dressers and cabinets were easily 8′ tall requiring a step stool for even someone with my height (6’2″) to use. But based on the sizes of the beds, I doubt many of the people in the village broke somewhere around the 5’8″ range. If you don’t know much about woodworking styles let me fill you in on what Shaker furniture is all about – simple and utilitarian. The plain design was largely driven by their religious beliefs. In short they did not dress up anything – their clothing, homes, furniture, etc. Although they did not believe in ornate decoration, they did believe that when they did anything, that they do so to the best of their ability. This resulted in incredibly well made furniture that withstands the test of time.

Although I find the Shakers way of life very interesting I did learn one thing this weekend – the furniture is just too dull for my taste. =)

Below are a few photos I was able to snag with my iPhone. Enjoy!

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