Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Enfield Shaker Museum

Shakers, who practiced a communal and celibate life, were a Christian religious group that formed in England in the 1740s. Many emigrated to the United States in the 1770s to escape persecution and established communities in New England. Enfield was the 9th community formed. It grew to three connected groups, with 100 people in each group, who together owned 3000 acres of land and over 100 buildings.
Since no children were born in the communities, the Shakers depended on the attraction of a simple life - one that included hard work but also plenty of food and comfortable living quarters - to grow their numbers. Children were adopted or indentured to learn a trade which added young members. Even so by the late 1800s the population in Shaker communities were in decline and many were closing and consolidating. The last Enfield Shakers left in 1923.
In 1927 Mary Keane, a wealthy heiress, bought the Enfield property for the La Salette Catholic priests who wished to establish a French speaking seminary. She had a pretty little house (privately owned) built on the property but died before it was completed. The priests built a chapel and used the Shaker buildings for a seminary, a high school, and a summer camp.
In 1986 the church sold the property. The Enfield Shaker Museum, a nonprofit organization, has been slowly buying the Enfield buildings but some are privately owned or leased out. The main building, called the Great Stone Dwelling, is where tours start. Visitors may to tour the grounds on their own. There are several buildings with exhibits and the chapel may be entered.
The first floor of the Great Stone Dwelling is accessible but the pathway is rough gravel and the ramp is steep and does not meet flush with the ground. The upper floors are accessed by stairs only. The chapel does not have a ramp. The pathway to the East Brethren Shop is uphill over grassy uneven ground. The ramp is okay but there's a high threshold at the door. The cow barn has a very steep, rough grass ramp to the second story. There are minimal displays inside.

Most RVs will fit in the parking lot.  Museum 


1 comment:

  1. Such an interesting experiment in our American culture, but with no children being born, it was bound to die out. Hard work is doable, but most folks don't want a celibate life!!!