Shakin’ it up in Kentucky

May 13, 2010 13 Comments »

Shaker Chair

Back when I had furniture and lived a normal life working 9 to 5 everyday, I had an affinity to Shaker style furniture. My dining room set, as well as a number of little tables, were the shaker style; the simplicity and lines were always appealing to me. So when we had a few extra days in Kentucky after the derby, I searched the internet for cultural site-seeing and came across the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill. I knew right away that I wanted to stop there.

A 'Family' Home

The Shakers were America’s largest and best known communal society in the 19th century. Their movement began in New York after the American Revolution and Shaker communities flourished from Maine to Kentucky. They were religious and peaceful, they believed in equality of race and sex, and they were celibate. I find this last fact pretty amazing considering their legacy lived for hundreds of years; thanks to lots of new converts.

However I can relate to the Shakers more than ever these days – unfortunately the celibacy is relatable, however what I really relate to is their quest for simplicity. They lived a simple life, it wasn’t showy, it wasn’t loud, it was just simple. They didn’t have a desire to have the biggest, the best or the most, they just kept their belongings very few and simple. As I look at my two suitcases I’ve been living out of for the last few years, I feel like I can relate.

The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a tourist stop in Bluegrass country of Kentucky; about an hour’s drive from Louisville. Passing by horse farms and rolling hills, the village is located about 7 miles outside the historic town of Harrodsburg. The village was established in 1805 and thrived until the 1860’s when the industrial revolution began the community’s ultimate decline.

Village Water Tower

Today the village and buildings have been preserved and for an entrance fee of $15 for adults, you can roam around the village and see various demonstrations that will send you back in a time warp. The grounds were impeccable and all of the old shops were manned with actors demonstrating how the various crafts were made (barrels, rugs, boxes, and furniture). They also had demonstrations on the farming aspects of the village. When we were there they were sheering sheep.

In addition to viewing the demonstrations, seeing the layout of the old village, and viewing the gorgeous furniture, there is a functioning hotel and restaurant in the village. Of course the hotel rooms are all decorated in the Shaker style. I saw a few of them and they are huge and a good value for the size.

Sure, all of this history was fascinating, however my real interest lied in the grounds themselves. Armed with my camera this was one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to take photos. The Shaker style is all about simplicity; curves, lines, and symmetry.  A perfect recipe for some great composition photography.

Lines

Curves

Symmetry

I was beside myself every time I walked into another building and was greeted by softly lit spiral staircases, beautiful chairs hanging from the shaker pegs, and symmetrical staircases and floorboards designs. This was a photographer’s dream. Even if you aren’t interested in the history of the village, if you are a photographer this place is definitely worth a stop. New photographers can really practice their composition of lines and curves, and seasoned photographers can play with the lights and shadows.

Needless to say – I took my share of photos.
Shaker Village Photos

Touring an old village with actors recreating life from the past isn’t for everyone; however, because I loved the Shaker style, it captured my interest level and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and would recommend it to anyone as a fun and educational stop.

Find more information about the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Kentucky at their website:

http://www.shakervillageky.org/


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