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Staying In Pittsfield: Hancock Shaker Village

Staying In Pittsfield: Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village began in the late 1780s, when nearly 100 Believers consolidated a community on land donated by local farmers who had converted to the Shaker movement. By the 1830s, with a great many more conversions and additional land acquisitions, the Shaker community peaked in population with more than 300 Believers and more than 3,000 acres.

They erected communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops and other buildings, and developed a large and successful farm. With the 1826 Round Stone Barn as the center of a thriving dairy industry.

       

Many acres cultivated in medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other crops, the Hancock Shakers enjoyed a simple, peaceful, and hard-working life, separated from the ways of “The World.” They named their utopian village The City of Peace.

Eventually, forces outside the community forced them out. By the early 1900s, with dwindling converts, the Shaker population at Hancock declined to about 50 Believers, most of them Sisters and orphan girls who had been adopted by the community.

In 1959, the Shakers could no longer maintain their City of Peace, they sold the remaining property to a local group committed to preserving the Shaker heritage. The utopian village known as Hancock Shaker Village continues its life today as a history museum with 20 authentic buildings, a working farm and significant collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts.

There are a lot of art installations here. In Swept: This Work I Will Do, artist and broom squire Cate Richards presents a series of broom-inspired sculptures alongside Shaker brooms, connecting Shakers to contemporary craft practices and exploring the Shakers’ influence on American craft and art today. There was even a gay pride broom.

Another installation was Yusuke Asai’s Hands and Dreams, which these pictures do not do justice.

Sadly we only spent about 45 minutes here. You definitely need about 2 -3 hours to do Hancock Shaker Village and enjoy it’s serenity.

Hancock Shaker Village: 1843 West Housatonic St. Pittsfield MA, 01201 (413) 443-0188

Opening photo Marc Freedman from Hancock Shaker Village

 

Art

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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