L = Lake Shaker Village

The United Society of Believers, commonly called Shakers, was founded in 1747 in Manchester, England. Because if their vigorous bodily agitation during worship, they were

A group of Shakers, published in 1875
A group of Shakers, published in 1875

derisively called “Shaking Quakers,” later just Shakers. A young woman named Ann Lee joined the group and was imprisoned in 1770 for her religious beliefs. During her imprisonment she experienced a series of visions, and from then on was acknowledged at the Shaker leader, known as Mother Ann. In 1774 a revelation led her to take a select band to America. They landed in New York City and eventually migrated to a place outside Albany, beginning community life in 1776.

Lake Shakervillage 1The Shaker settlement at Sabbathday Lake, near New Gloucester, Maine, was founded in 1783 by a group of missionaries. The community grew to over two hundred members in less than a year, but even in the sect’s heyday, it was one of the smaller Shaker groups. Aurelia Gay Mace was the first leader of Sabbathday Lake Shaker community. It is now the last remaining Shaker group in the United States, and as of 2012, had only three members.

By 1850, the Sabbathday Lake Community had grown to a size of 1,900 acres with 26 largeAttending Shaker meeting, at Sabbathday Lake, 1886 buildings, including the meeting house; Brethren’s Shop which still holds a working blacksmith shop and woodworking operation; and a large Central Dwelling House built in 1883 or 1884. Other buildings with historical significance are the Shaker Library, the

Central Dwelling House Wikipedia
Central Dwelling House Wikipedia

Cart and Carriage Shed, Ox Barn, The Girl’s Shop, Herb House, Brooder House, Wood House, a garage built in 1910 for the group’s first car, a Summer House and the Laundry building. The Shakers of the Sabbathday Lake Community were largely self-sufficient, selling goods from their mill and farm. In 1823 there were still about 150 members of the community

The reason the numbers have dwindled over the year is that Shakers are celibate. Thus new members cannot be born into the group and must join from the outside. Membership to the community is still open, and occasionally “novices” will explore joining the society. Current members have taken steps to ensure that Sabbathday Lake Village will remain largely unchanged once the final members of the group die.Lake Shaker Village 6

The Museum at the settlement is the largest repository of Maine Shaker culture. Examples of furniture, oval boxes, woodenware, metal and tin wares, technology and tools, costume and textiles, visual arts, and herbal and medicinal products are among the 13,000 artifacts currently part of the Sabbathday Lake collection.

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker village was declared a Nation Historic Landmark in 1974. It is open for tours from the end of May through mid-October.    Lake Shaker Village 7



21 thoughts on “L = Lake Shaker Village”

  1. Really interesting – I find the history of these movements fascinating. How strange that they’re celibate; they obviously see no need to continue their belief system.

    1. No, the founder of the American group, Mother Ann, was married but her husband deserted her when the reached New York City. Maybe that’s when everyone had to be celibate??

  2. Hi there – wonder how the current members will be able to ensure that Sabbathday Lake Village remains unchanged once the final member dies. I guess they could leave it to someone outside the community with that agreement in place. 🙂

  3. I find the Shakers fascinating. There was a colony in north-central Massachusetts at one point as well. I seem to remember going there on a school field trip. I wonder how the Shakers contributed to the vibrant fine chair-making tradition along the ME coast.

  4. Hmm. Celibacy is not a good strategy for a continuing community. As my Lost City ladies know 😉

  5. I went to a Shaker village in Kentucky when I was a kid (Pleasant Hill maybe?) and it was fascinating. I’ve been wanting to go back as an adult. This sounds absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Can you kill someone off here? I bet Rhe would enjoy all the old buildings.

    1. I think they would have to have pretty strong beliefs to belong to the Shakers given the strict rules of the society. Probably why they have pretty much died out.

  6. I’d never heard of the Shakers being celibate. That is really interesting, and in a way, I’m sad they’re going to die out… but, at least they stick to their integrity. Buddhism purports to encourage a celibate lifestyle, but they realized way back in the 1600s that wasn’t going to work for the whole handing-down-the-heritage thing, so made exceptions. Still feels strange to me, though. 😛

    1. It’s strange to me, too, but I guess their raison d’etre is not for the survival of the sect but the religious well being of the members!

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