Preservation@Work

It’s almost Preservation Month, and preserving Shaker Village is no small task! The Shakers built more than 260 structures during their time here, and 34 of those structures are left standing today. With lots of love, but finite funding, our to-do list stays long around here. Carpenters, painters, architects, maintenance techs and more come together to preserve these amazing pieces of history. During your visit to Shaker Village, you can find many preservation projects going on at once.

One of our most recent endeavors has been the West Family Wash House. About a year ago, we undertook the preservation of this beautiful yellow building. With the intention of replacing the siding, construction began last April; however, we quickly realized the framework needed some major TLC. And so, here we are. A year later, window sashes have been remade, siding has been replaced, plaster has been repaired and much more.

While the original siding was made of beveled poplar, most of the siding left on the Wash House before this project was not original to the building. After much research and with the blessing of the Kentucky Heritage Council, the decision was made to try something new during this preservation project and use boral siding: a synthetic blend that replicates the look, feel and character of traditional wood siding, while resisting rot, splitting, cracking and termites. Many hands contributed to this project, as our carpenters and painters worked side-by-side to ensure everything was done correctly (including beveling each piece of siding to custom fit the building)!

With just a few loose ends to tie up and exterior painting to be done, the West Family Wash House will soon be finished (for now). Preservation is a never ending task around here, and we intend to do our best. Stay tuned for other preservation@work happenings! We’ve got several history-making projects coming very soon!

West Family Wash House Facts:

  • It was completed in 1842. The inhabitants of Shaker dwellings were responsible for their laundry; therefore, each family had its own wash house. The East and West Family Wash Houses still stand today, and we continue to run daily and special programs inside them. 
  • Today, it is used primarily as a meeting space for groups and programming.
  • In the 1960s, the West Family Wash House was used as a storage shed.
  • The siding was most likely replaced at some time since the nonprofit’s original restoration in the 1960s.
  • There are no original window sills on this building.

Mike Worthington, Paint Foreman


You can learn more about this project and others during, Preservation Now, a program offered daily this Spring. Plan your visit to Shaker Village.

The Discovery Garden

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The Discovery Garden

With big changes coming to the Centre Family Dwelling this summer, we had to find a new home for our herb garden. Thanks to a grant from the Whole Kids Foundation and a partnership with the Garden Club of Lexington, we were able to turn the project into something better all of our guests can enjoy. The grant will fund a shaded wheelchair-accessible program area, as well as storage for program supplies, to help us enhance our programs on herbs and native plants important to people and wildlife. This project will also reestablish the garden as a monarch waystation, as we are adding several varieties of milkweeds that are found in The Preserve.
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Last week, a few members of the Shaker Village team pitched in and assisted in transferring the herb garden across the Turnpike to its new home. Here’s what they had to say:


Q: What’s the purpose of an herb garden? What programs are we having this year that involve the garden?

A: It’s actually not just an herb garden anymore! We’ve renamed it the Discovery Garden because it now includes the plants from our Shaker herb garden and native plants from The Preserve that are beneficial to pollinators and other wildlife. We will continue adding plants throughout the year to expand the garden from its original purpose and layout.

The beds will be organized to highlight the different uses the Shakers and modern people have for herbs (nutrition, hygiene/health and natural dyes). Common herbs used by the Shakers, such as thyme, lavender and mints, as well as lesser known herbs such as comfrey, wormwood and orris root, can be found in this garden. Some beds will highlight the native plants that the Shakers gathered from the wild for food and medicine, as well as plants important to pollinators and other wildlife. You will also be able to find more interesting plants such as cane, prickly pear, milkweeds, passion flower, wild edible berries and more!

Once established, the Discovery Garden will be the location for new daily programs on herbs and pollinators. Visit us soon to check it out!

Merin Roseman, Program Team + Sustainability Administrator

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Q: What’s the most difficult herb to grow?

A: Herbs are pretty variable, but generally easy to grow.  I personally can’t keep a rosemary plant alive through the winter, but it’s a potted plant that needs to come inside for Kentucky winters, in most cases.  The past couple of years, we’ve had some challenges getting parsley to grow, but this year, it’s growing fantastically, due to having the greenhouse running!  In general, all herbs are pretty easy to grow, are multi-useful and one of the best ways to cut the grocery bill (assuming you use a lot of herbs in your cooking).

Q: Is it true that we will be selling herbs from our garden this year? What herbs will we be selling?

A: We are growing herbs, along with several other garden plants, to sell in The Shops this year. This spring, you will be able to purchase some annual herbs such as basil, parsley and fennel. We also plan to sell onion sets, which can be considered an herb or vegetable. I’m also starting several perennial herbs, such as oregano, spearmint, thyme and lemon balm. The perennials grow slower, and I plan to transplant some of what we grow to the herb garden and in the farm area throughout the year with plans to sell them in the future if they do well.

Dylan Kennedy, Farm Manager

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Q: Did you learn anything fun during this process? What do you like to tell the guests about the herb garden?

A: Going into this project I had a limited knowledge of herbs—so I learned quite a bit. First, the Shakers would have only kept plants (herbs) that were of use, so nothing simply for decorative purposes as some people do today. Also, I learned that herbs have all kinds of uses: medicines, foods and to provide coloring for clothes. I’ll definitely be using some of these facts on my daily tours!

Jacob Glover, Program Specialist


Q: Did you learn anything fun during this process? What do you like to tell the guests about the herb garden?

A: The project was exciting to participate in! I especially enjoyed learning about the structure and space requirements of each plant as they were arranged in each bed. I enjoyed picking up some of the Shaker terminology for the herb gardens, such as the “physic garden” to describe the medicinal herb beds, the “sauce garden” in reference to the culinary beds and the “dye garden” for creating natural dyes. I am eager to see the garden come to life after learning about the many native plants we transplanted and additional native species to be planted in the future!

Rebekah Roberts, Program Specialist

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Q: How long have we had an herb garden at Shaker Village? Did the Shakers have an herb garden?
A: Initial funding for the Centre Family garden was provided by the Glenview Garden Club of Louisville, with development for the project beginning as early as 1968. Two years after the garden’s initial installation in 1977, the garden was reconstructed to replicate a design found in the Shakers’ journals, though on a smaller scale. While this particular herb garden has been situated on the west side of Centre Family since the 1970s, the original location of Centre Family’s medicinal garden is unknown.

Q: What did the Shakers use herbs for?

A: The Shakers used herbs in a variety of capacities, but, primarily, those grown in their gardens and gathered from their property were garnered for medicinal use within the community. Beyond Pleasant Hill though, the Shakers marketed their dried and pressed herbs in the form of powders, pills and extracts—often selling them as far south as New Orleans.

Emalee Krulish, Archivist


Stop by and visit The Discovery Garden during your next visit! Check out our events calendar and plan your next trip. 

We set The Preserve on fire!

If you were driving through Central Kentucky last week, you may have noticed some smoke coming from our way. Don’t worry… we meant to do that. No, really, we did. On Friday, the preserve team burned about 450 acres… on purpose!

Prescribed fire can be defined as a fire applied in a skillful manner to wildland fuels, in a predetermined place, under exacting weather conditions, to achieve specific management objectives.

Prescribed burns are part of the annual management plan of The Preserve to promote high quality brood rearing habitat for northern bobwhite quail and grassland songbirds. Adjacent unburned fields act as refuges and will be used as nesting habitat. Joining the Shaker Village preserve team on Friday were partners from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky Division of Forestry and Copperhead Consulting as well as regional volunteers and the local fire department. While we can’t provide this experience to daily guests due to safety reasons, we’d like to share it with you here:

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Learn more about our land conservation efforts. Watch a video of last week’s burn.


Ben Leffew is the preserve manager. A Kentucky Proud product straight out of Boyle County, Ben’s formal and informal education has prepared him to take on any conservation challenge…

The Carpenters’ Shop is getting some TLC!

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As a Shell Gas Station in the 1960s

Built in 1815 as a smith and wagon makers’ shop, the red brick Carpenters’ Shop has held a front-row seat to Kentucky history in action. It’s seen horse-drawn wagons traveling the toll road and Civil War soldiers marching into battle. It’s seen a remarkable culture built, grow, adapt, fade, restored, preserved and shared.

For more than 200 years, the building has been preserved through adaptive reuse by Shakers, rural farmers and businessmen, and early preservationists. Today, we are pleased to announce that the Carpenters’ Shop will undergo much needed preservation and rehabilitation work this spring. Over the next few months, the structure will be stabilized by the installation of a new wood shake roof; the repairing and painting of wood soffits, fascias and trim; and the repairing and painting of interior plaster, wood trim and casework.

During Resoration, 1966

During restoration, 1966

The project also includes refurbishing the building’s interior spaces to create a centralized sales and information hub for Shaker Village guest services. This center will serve as the jumping off point for the site experience and a guidepost for new programs and hospitality services. The setting will be unmistakably Shaker, thoughtful and simple, but punctuated with progressive technologies and designs that serve form and function.

Guests will have a comfortable one-stop location to check-in, purchase tickets and learn about Village happenings. In addition, new hands-on interpretive and shopping experiences will be introduced inside the space. The project continues the preservation of this important building, while creating a new level of convenience and functionality for guests and staff alike.

Starting today, guests should visit the Trustees’ Office for all of their check-in and purchasing needs. Brooms, oval boxes and other regular shop merchandise are available for sale inside the Trustees’ Office Shop and the Post Office.

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As a gift shop, 2016

Stay tuned–we’ll be unveiling the new welcome experience later this spring!


Preserve history now! Shaker Village inspires generations through discovery by sharing the legacies of the Kentucky Shakers. The National Historic Landmark preserves 34 original shaker structures and 3,000 acres of conserved land. Help us inspire generations with a tax deductible gift!

5 Things You Don’t Know About The Inn

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Shaker Village has been a warm beacon of hospitality for more than 200 years. The Shakers used to host travelers in the Village long before 1841, when The Trustees’ Office was built. The Trustees’ Office signaled open arms to guests with its one front door, instead of the well-known double Shaker entrance. It was a greeting place; the heart of the Village to outsiders, business partners, friends and family members of the Shaker community. Boarders, as they were called, were welcome to stay, dine and visit with the Shakers, as long as they followed their rules during their stay. Today, while we don’t insist that you follow a list of Shaker rules, we do insist that you sit back, relax and enjoy your time at Shaker Village!

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The Trustees’ Office, circa 1842

Named as a top hidden travel destination by BBC News, The Inn is much more than a traditional hotel. Guest rooms, suites and private cottages—each offering distinct character—are located in 13 restored Shaker buildings. Rooms are comfortably appointed with Shaker reproduction furniture, original hardwood floors and spectacular countryside views.

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1. Each room is unique! Request your favorite room, or be ready for a different adventure each time you visit. Find a handwritten poem on the windowsill of room 174. Look for letters from past visiting guests in a floorboard under the bed of room 207 (and write your own letter to add to it). Enjoy a perfect view of The Preserve from room 160. See original pieces of the building on the second floor of East Family Dwelling. Open the tiny door in room 505 and ponder what it’s for. Watch the sunrise from your window in room 563. The list goes on and on. These buildings have real history, and each room tells a different story.

2. We’re sustainable! In true Shaker form, we try to be as sustainable as possible and use our resources to the best of their ability. From LED lightbulbs and green toiletry and cleaning products to our newest venture with waterless urinals, we strive to make differences that will impact the entire village for the better.Tens of thousands of guests visit the Village each year and are served by approximately 140 employees. Despite serving an increasing number of guests through meals, programs and events, staff have managed to decrease solid waste. This accomplishment took a coordinated effort across departments, and the recycling program continues to be improved and expanded. More than 432 cubic yards of plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard will be recycled by the end of the year. This volume of trash would fill 12 average-sized bedrooms from floor to ceiling and represents a savings of approximately $2,300 in trash service fees. We will continue to find ways to be more sustainable in The Inn and all areas of the Village this year and every year to pass on the legacies of the Shakers and to preserve this site for future generations.

3. We have pet-friendly rooms! No need to leave your fur baby at home when you plan your getaway to Shaker Village. Explore the grounds with your dog (on a leash, please) and then check out our pet-friendly hiking trails, as well as overnight rooms.

4. You get complimentary admission to the Village! Every day is filled with self-guided and staff-led tours, talks, exhibitions, hands-on activities and more throughout The Historic CentreThe Farm and The Preserve. Scheduled experiences change daily based on the seasons and VILLAGE@WORK projects. Enjoy outdoor fire pits or go stargazing. Hop on one of our bikes and take a ride. Go hiking or birdwatching. Enjoy the view from our tree swings and so much more. Visit our events calendar to see what else is happening around here.

5. By staying here, you contribute to making great things happen at Shaker Village. Your online and onsite purchases generate revenue to keep this site going. All operating proceeds benefit Shaker Village’s mission and are used to develop new programs and events, compensate employees, buy new linens, feed the farm animals, maintain the trails, keep the lights on and much more! Visit our website to learn more about how you can support Shaker Village.

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This Kentucky destination allows you to be as active or as restful as your heart desires. Come ready for a new adventure or a peaceful retreat. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, weekend getaway, business meeting, destination wedding or other special occasion, The Inn provides the perfect stage for your most memorable occasions. Start planning your getaway now!

Check out these promotions currently going on at The Inn:
Bee My Valentine Package
Cozy Winter Nights at The Inn 


Anthony Cardano is the inn manager and joined Shaker Village after cutting his teeth in the corporate hotel world…