May at the Shaker Village

IMG_0632My morning walk today gave me a bit of surprise: frost on May 29.  May is a wonderful time in Maine.  Every year it’s a renewed thrill.  The highpoint of May 2014 was a series of visits to the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village.  I feel so fortunate to live in the same town as the last active Shaker community.  Folks come from all over the world to visit.  I feel even more honored to have been doing restoration work at SDL since the mid 1970’s.  One of the major benefits is that I can look at, examine, and photograph many of the interior details and furnishings.  This spring the museum director asked my wife to take photos for sale at the Shaker store.  We spent a day doing exterior shots, and a few days inside the 1794 Meeting House an the Ministry Shop.

Meeting houseThe interior of the Meeting house is an architectural marvel; a big empty room with no posts, boxed and supported roof beams, built in benches around the perimeter.  The floor is worn hemlock, the walls are white plaster and the trim is the original blueberry milk paint from 1794.  The color is almost indescribable.  Worn, weathered and faded in places, deep dark blue in sunlight protected corners.  It speaks distinctly of history.  Sitting quietly in the big, light room, on can imagine the Shakers of the late 18th and 19th centuries dancing and singing.

Shakers- classic

Upstairs, and in the Ministry Shop, are some of the finest examples of Maine Shaker furniture.   An amazing collection of the earliest pieces, the classics, and the later Victorian style.

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker community is a national treasure.  I can’t recommend it enough.  If you are at all interested in the Shakers, their influence, and legacy, then a visit here is a must.  For more information, have a look at the web site of the Shaker museum, soon to be updated. http://www.shaker.lib.me.us/

C. H. Becksvoort © 2014

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