Tour Shaker Village
10:00am - 5:00pm April - mid-October
About the Village
Hancock Shaker Village, Inc., is a private, not-for-profit educational
organization. Our mission is to bring the Shaker story to life and
preserve it for future generations. The Shaker Central Ministry closed
the Hancock community in 1960 and sold the buildings and surrounding
acreage to a group of Shaker enthusiasts, collectors and scholars who
formed the not-for-profit corporation that eventually became Hancock
Shaker Village. The museum opened to the public on July 1, 1961.
Village Amenities and planning your
When is the Village open?
The Village is open year round with self-guided tours offered mid –April through mid-October and Guided Tours offered from mid-October to mid-April. To check guided tour days and times call (413)443-0188 or (800)817-1137.
How long should I plan to stay?
It is recommended that you plan 2-3 hours (or more depending on your specific interest) during self-guided tour season; 2 hours during guided tour season.
May I take photographs or videos at the Village?
Photography and videography for personal, private use is allowed. If you wish to take images of the Village for commercial purposes (such as product development, advertising, exhibition, publication), permission is required. Please contact the Director of Marketing in advance.
How much walking is involved?
Although there are 20 buildings in the Village, they are in a compact area. Benches are scattered throughout the Village for those wishing a rest; comfortable shoes are advised.
How will I know what is going on, where and when?
During the Main Season, you will be given a map of the Village and schedule of activities happening that day. The schedule changes slightly from day to day. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff, located in various buildings, can answer questions about the Shakers as well as to help you navigate the Village. There is also a brief orientation video available in the Visitors Center.
How shall I dress for my visit? What if it rains, will I be outside?
The Village is a fun and interesting place to visit, even if it rains. While you will have to walk between buildings, most of what you will see and do is indoors. A rain jacket or umbrella and waterproof shoes are recommended. During the guided tour season you will be spending time in heated and unheated buildings during your tour. The majority of the tour takes place in the heated Brick Dwelling, but we recommend you dress for the elements.
Can I get something to eat at the Village?
The Florence Gould Café is open May through October, serving continental breakfast, lunch and take-out picnics.
Where can I shop?
The Village Store is open daily, year-round, and offers a variety of Shaker reproduction furniture and crafts, books, toys, gifts, food and much more.
Do you have lodging at the Village?
No, but there are a number of lodging options available for you close by. Contact the Berkshire Visitors Bureau at (800) 237-5747 or visit www.berkshires.org for information or to make a reservation.
Can I get married at the Village?
Hancock Shaker Village is not available for wedding events. Please see www.berkshires.org for a list of locations that host weddings and other private functions.
Is smoking allowed at the Village?
Smoking is prohibited in the historic area (including the farm and gardens) and buildings, café, museum store and Visitor Center. Smoking is permitted in the courtyard outside the Visitor Center and in the Picnic Area.
Are pets allowed at the Village?
For their safety and the safety of the Village's livestock, pets are not allowed.
Are there any hiking trails?
There is a 6-mile, mild-to-intermediate hiking trail that takes you to the archaeological site of the North family. Please check in at the Ticket Desk for a map.
In 2007, the Village opened a four-season, accessible one-mile trail that winds through acres of fields and woodlands. The trail begins and ends at the famous 1826 Round Stone Barn and loops through natural and cultivated lands connecting historic pastures, fields of heirloom crops, hardwood forest, and an historic Shaker marble quarry. Please consult the Ticket Desk for more information regarding the Farm & Forest Trail.
Are there craft demonstrations at the Village?
Yes. A changing schedule of demonstrations includes broom making, basket and box making, blacksmithing, textile arts, chair seat weaving and woodworking. Crafts demonstrations change daily.
Are there people in costume at the Village?
Most of the staff at the Village is in modern, non-Shaker clothing. When you see someone dressed as a Shaker, they are demonstrating Shaker dress.
History and Information about the Shakers
Who are the Shakers?
The term Shakers is the commonly used name of The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing.
Will I see any Shakers when I visit?
No. The Shakers left their community at Hancock in 1959.
Why are they called Shakers?
The name Shaker was given to this religious group as a derisive term by people outside the faith who had watched the Shakers whirl and tremble to "shake" off sins and evil during their ecstatic worship.
Who was Mother Ann Lee?
She was the founder of the Shaker movement. Ann Lees, later shortened to Lee, was born in England on February 29, 1736, and came to America in 1774 after being persecuted for her religious beliefs.
What are the Shakers' basic tenets?
Celibacy, communal life, and confession of sin are the basic religious tenets of the Shakers. Other important beliefs are separation from the world, equality of the races and genders, and pacifism. Shakers believe that their founder, Mother Ann Lee, embodied the second coming of the Christ spirit as manifested on Earth.
How are the Shakers different from the Amish and the Quakers?
The Shakers, Amish, and Quakers differ theologically and in the way they live. Unlike Shakers and Amish, the Quakers do not live in their own communities. Unlike the Amish and Quakers, the Shakers are celibate and do not marry. Unlike the Amish, the Shakers believe in full gender equality. And while the Amish reject most technology, the Shakers embraced technological advances.
Since the Shakers were celibate, how did they expect to grow?
The Shakers relied on conversion to grow their ranks. The early 19th century was a time of great religious and social upheaval in America. People were questioning traditional religious beliefs and social order, creating fertile ground for the Shakers' progressive thinking. The Shakers also took in orphaned children and raised them. When the orphans reached age 18, the Shakers gave them the option to stay within the community or leave for the outside world.
How widely did Shakerism spread?
Nineteen major Shaker communities spread from New England to Kentucky. At the height of the Shaker movement in the mid-19th century, there were an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 Shakers.
How did the Shakers govern themselves?
Two Elders and two Eldresses made up the Central Ministry, located at Mt. Lebanon, New York. They oversaw the spiritual and temporal needs of all 19 major Shaker communities. Bishoprics, administrative groups consisting of several communities located relatively close to each other, had their own leadership: two Elders and two Eldresses. They divided their time and duties between the communities under their care, and maintained the important connection between the communities and the Central Ministry. Individual Shaker communities generally consisted of two to six smaller communal groups called Families, with two Elders and two Eldresses in charge of the spiritual life of each Family. Temporal leaders on the Family level were Deacons and Deaconesses, who were in charge of the wide variety of crafts, trades and agricultural work pursued by their Family; and Trustees, who were responsible for their Family's communal business affairs and other financial and legal matters.
Did the Shakers pay taxes, vote, or serve in the military?
The Shakers did not try to avoid paying most taxes. They willingly paid the equivalent of local property taxes without seeking exemption as a religious organization. They sometimes objected to taxes that they considered unfair or morally wrong.Abstaining from politics, the Shakers did not vote, campaign, or hold office, except in rare instances.As pacifists, the Shakers sought exemption from military duty. During the Civil War, the great Shaker Elder Frederick Evans approached President Lincoln with a petition for exemption of Shakers from military draft. Lincoln granted the petition, telling Evans, "You ought to be made to fight. We need regiments of just such men as you."
What did the Shakers invent?
The Shakers were inventive people, embracing and often improving upon technology. There are many myths about Shaker inventions. Some are exaggerated truths; others are fiction. Because the Shakers, as a show of humility, often did not patent their inventions and improvements, it is difficult to say how many things they invented.Current scholarship indicates that the Shakers most likely invented the flat broom. They were one of the first to put garden seeds in printed paper packets for sale. They may have invented an early (but perhaps not the first) version of a circular saw. Authentication of many other Shaker inventions or improvements on existing technologies and items is debated and discussed to this day.
Are there still Shakers today?
Yes. A small but active community practices the Shaker religion in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. To learn more about them, visit www.maineshakers.com.
Adapted from Introducing the Shakers: An Explanation and Directory by Diana Van Kolken
Susan and Manfred Phemister
Amsterdam Castle LLC
49 Florida Avenue
Amsterdam, NY. 12010
Tel. 518 843 5201
Welcome to Amsterdam Castle
Built in 1894 by the state of New York for the National Guard, Amsterdam
Castle is a 36,000 square foot private residence listed on the
National Register of Historic Places
New York originally built
100 of these armories, of which nearly 50 are still in use by the National
Guard. Other “sister” armories uses include a military museum
(Saratoga), art gallery (Manhattan East Side), and a concert hall (Albany).
This armory was decommissioned in 1995 and is the only armory converted
into a home.
This magnificent building has 50 rooms, including a 10,000 sq ft gymnasium,
a rifle range, a fallout shelter and billiard room. The Phemister family
bought the building in 2005 and embarked on an extensive renovation and
redecoration that was featured on HGTV’s ‘ReZoned”. In addition to
returning the building to its lush Victorian decor, the renovation featured
environmentally friendly building materials such as low VOC paints and
repurposed wood. The castle has Wi-Fi, cable TV and high speed
internet, onsite parking for 40 and ample street parking. The
gymnasium can hold 1000+ (and 500 seated), making us the largest event and
reception facility in the county. The 18” brick walls hold the
temperature at a surprisingly ambient level, making it pleasant in summer
and heat-effective in winter.
Located in scenic and historic
Amsterdam, NY, the
castle is 3 hours from New York City and 30 miles from
Albany, capital of New
York State, with convenient access to
Albany International Airport
Amtrak's Amsterdam Station.
Beautiful Saratoga Springs and Cooperstown, NY are both a convenient 35
minute drive. Other nearby attractions are the
Saratoga Springs, Howe
Caverns, the Great Sacadanga Lake and skiing. Don’t forget to come
check out the gorgeous fall foliage, pick apples, and revel in upstate New
York beauty. We have two guest wings available for bed and breakfast
accomodation. We are as eco-friendly as possible, using green
cleaning products and organic, locally grown food for our guest breakfasts.
This year we’ve hosted a cheerleading camp and a dodge ball tournament, plus
fundraisers, corporate board meetings, summer overnight guests and ABC’s
Wife Swap. Historian Nancy Todd wrote a book on
New York’s historic armories
and we were nominated for a county tourism award.
HGTV taped an episode of
their show Rezoned. Independent filmmaker
Dawn Westlake wrapped
God's Good Pleasure.
Talon Films has filmed
'American General' in the area and in the castle for PBS. Welcome!
Susan and Manfred Phemister
Reservation ConfirmedThank you. Your room reservation has been confirmed. A confirmation has also been sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to cancel, you must do so by 6:00 PM local hotel time on June 11, 2010 or your credit card will be charged for one night's stay.
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