Extending Gratitude in a Challenging Year

Melissa Williams, Development Coordinator

“When we sow words and deeds of kindness, we will rejoice in the time of harvest. – Brother Larz Erickson, Pleasant Hill

The season of thanksgiving is upon us and here at Shaker Village it is the best time of the year. I say that in all seriousness, but it’s hard to dispute that any time is the best time of year at Pleasant Hill.

There is something about the falling leaves, the preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner at the Trustees’ Table and the addition of holiday decorations going up across the Village that makes this place extra special. A stroll down the turnpike on a crisp November day will inspire you and fill you with good cheer.

Guests came out to the Village to enjoy the outdoors, special events and being together again.

WE MAKE YOU KINDLY WELCOME

If you visited this year, you might have noticed something about Shaker Village: we’ve been extremely busy! The Inn has been booked with happy families and individuals seeking a peaceful getaway. Reservations are almost always needed to dine at The Trustees’ Table. Programming has been well attended by visitors young and old. Hikers and horseback riders have been out on the trails every day.

To put it simply Shaker Village has been flourishing. The grounds look better than ever. Historic preservation work continues through the Village. A new exhibit is opening next month. The farm family is growing. The trails have received restorative work. And more!

Every event we hosted in 2021 (to date) was a success, with guests declaring that it was “the best event ever” and their intention to make it an annual tradition. It’s truly been exhilarating.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

There have undoubtedly been challenges this year. The biggest of these has been trying to keep our staff and visitors safe while providing a robust guest experience.

We chose early on to move forward in planning for our signature events with modifications for COVID protocols. Our first signature event, Brunch with the Babies, was expanded to include Family Farm Days throughout the month of April. This format provided a more flexible and socially distanced guest experience for a wider audience. It was such a hit that Family Farm Days will be back in 2022. The same is true for other events and programming that we introduced or modified this year.

Brunch with the Babies and Family Farm Days proved to be a big hit and will return in 2022!

Like other businesses we have experienced staffing issues for a variety of reasons. Behind the scenes our staff has pulled together to wear many hats so that the guest experience meets your expectations. We sincerely appreciate the grace you’ve shown us when these challenges have been apparent.

Supply issues have also kept us on our toes. This month The Trustees’ Office is getting some tender love and care as the old cedar shake roof is removed and new shingles are installed. We’ve been waiting on the shakes since February and the price of materials increased by $50,000 during the delay. With overnight rooms, the restaurant and a craft store housed in The Trustees’ Office, it is the most visited building by our guests and is a critical revenue center for our operation. We could not delay the project further in hopes of prices coming down without risking more substantial water damage to the building.

The Trustees’ Office receives a much needed new roof.

A SINCERE THANK YOU

We know that this year hasn’t been easy for you either. We have all experienced stress in our personal lives for many reasons. And yet, you’ve supported us.

You’ve visited the Village to hike the trails and explore the Historic Center. You’ve participated in programming, gone on guided tours and been here for all of our signature events.

You’ve stayed overnight at The Inn, more so than ever before, and you’ve dined at The Trustees’ Table.

And when we have asked, you have donated to our nonprofit mission.

Because of you and your support, Shaker Village has been able to continue the important work we do here to carry forward the legacy of the Pleasant Hill Shakers.

Saying “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough to express just how much we appreciate you as a guest and a friend. Without you, your interest and your support, Shaker Village would not exist as it does.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a world without this 3,000-acre site.

So, we will say thank you and hope that you know we mean it. Sincerely.

Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

Shelby Jones, Director of Communications

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and The Trustees’ Table is ready to dish out all of the traditional holiday foods you wait for every year. We can’t wait to welcome guests to our Thanksgiving table, but we know that many of you won’t be able to sit down with us so we wanted to help ensure that your table is just as festive as ours.

The Trustees’ Table is set for guests all year long including Thanksgiving.

Top Tips for a Tasty Thanksgiving
Shaker Village Chef Amber Hokams is sharing some tips to make your at home menu prep a little easier.

  • Brine Your Bird – Allowing your turkey to soak for at least 24 hours in a brine (¼ cup of salt per gallon of water) will significantly increase the flavor and texture of your turkey. Don’t forget to add aromatics to your brine. Chef Hokams suggests sliced oranges, bay leaves, fresh thyme, rosemary and peppercorns. All of these flavors will infuse into your turkey making it especially delicious.
  • Cross Utilize Ingredients – Cut your shopping list in half! If you’re making cranberry relish add extra fresh poached cranberries to your dinner salad. If corn pudding is taking center stage on your table add any leftover corn to your cornbread for an extra layer of flavor and texture.
  • Homemade Stock Makes a Difference – Save your chicken bones, or ask your local butcher if they have any for sale. Roast your bones for a rich caramelized flavor by adding celery, carrot, onion, a few bay leaves and peppercorns in a large pot. Cover everything with water and allow to reduce over low heat for at least eight hours. Strain the ingredients and continue to reduce until a deep flavorful stock has been achieved. Use this as a base for your gravy along with the pan drippings from your roasting tray. If you really want to show off, add a healthy portion of reduced apple cider to your gravy for extra dimension.
  • Buy Local – Small businesses need our support more than ever. Pick up local baked breads and desserts from your favorite bakery, and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
Chef Amber Hokams trained at Le Cordon Bleu of Austin and has lead the culinary team at The Trustees’ Table since 2018.

A Recipe to Share
We couldn’t offer up all of that advice without passing on a recipe for the star of the meal – dressing (it’s dressing not stuffing). Check out Chef Hokams recipe for Sausage and Mushroom Dressing and add it to this year’s feast.

Sausage and Mushroom Dressing
6 c Ciabatta Bread, Cubed

6 c Cornbread, Cubed

4 c Wild Mushrooms, Roasted

2 T Butter

2 T Kosher Salt

1 lb. Italian Sausage

1 c Diced Red Onion

1 c Celery, Diced

3 T Garlic, Minced

6 Granny Smith Apples, Diced

¼ c Maple Syrup

4 c Homemade Chicken Stock

3 T Fresh Thyme, Chopped

1 T Rosemary Chopped

2 T Fresh Sage, Chopped

½ t Cayenne Pepper

2 T Orange Zest

Add Ciabatta and Cornbread to 300 Degree Oven and Dry Toast for 25-30 minutes.

Add Sausage to Pan and Brown.

Remove Sausage from Pan (leave the fat) and add Butter.

Add Red Onions, Celery, Fresh Herbs and Cayenne.

Allow to caramelize over medium high heat.

Once caramelized add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.

Once cool enough to handle add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

You may need to add more liquid depending on the consistency you like.

Place in a 375-degree oven for 25-25 minutes.

Thanksgiving To Go
While reservations for dine-in Thanksgiving meals are all booked up you can still enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving To Go from our restaurant. Thanksgiving To Go carryout orders can be booked through Thursday, November 18. Let us do all the work this year while you and your family relax and enjoy delicious turkey, cornbread dressing and vegetables along with country ham and homemade bread and desserts.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Billy Rankin, VP of Public Programming and Marketing

This is the sixth part of a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Local Economies, Global Impacts, a new exhibition that will open this December at Shaker Village.

In previous posts we introduced three main goals that the team at Shaker Village keep in mind when developing any new exhibit:

  1. Tell a Meaningful Story
  2. Connect with Different Audiences
  3. Be Relevant

We also looked into the process of fabricating an exhibit.

It’s now crunch time, as we are in the process of installing each component that will make the final exhibit experience!

Placing the Pieces

Over the last year and a half we have conducted research, written content, selected artifacts, compiled images, designed graphics, chosen contractors, built components and finally, FINALLY, we are putting it all together.

This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

Are the stands we built here at the Village going to fit the acrylic covers manufactured offsite? Will every artifact fit correctly on the platforms designed for them? Did we double-check that each component can actually fit through the doors? How heavy are those millstones, exactly?

With a planned opening on December 10, we are in that timeframe where we bite our fingernails, hoping that all of our planning has paid off.

It’s not always smooth.

For instance, as murals were being installed on the walls it became obvious there were several locations where we hadn’t accounted for the full height of the wall mounted lighting units. These will need to be modified so we don’t have a wooden frame obscuring an important quote. Fortunately, we have a talented team onsite that will make adjustments that, once completed, will never be noticed.

How Heavy Are They?

For an exhibit that aims to demonstrate the one-time enormity of Shaker industry at Pleasant Hill, you need BIG artifacts to help tell the story. Enter two, unfinished 500+ pound millstones from our collection. Once again the problem-solving skills of our exhibit team and partners were put to the test. How do you move these two behemoths into the East Family Brethren’s Shop? Once there, how do you display them?

Fortunately, with a combination of great planning, a well-built platform and a little help from the Village’s tractor, we were able to safely mount these two stones. Let’s hope this exhibit stays in place for a while!

Water at Work

Another interesting feature of Local Economies, Global Impacts will be our model waterwheel. This 9 ft. diameter wheel will demonstrate how the Shakers powered many of the mills constructed at Pleasant Hill. Maps, cutaway images and audio/video components will add greater depth to the history of mills at the Village.

During our planning stages we looked at a number of different designs for the waterwheel. No mills remain standing at Pleasant Hill, so we found inspiration from archival images of the 1816 Grist Mill. The locations of bolts, spokes and other features were designed to mimic what the Shakers had built long ago along Shawnee Run.

Every End is a New Beginning

The installation of Local Economies, Global Impacts marks the beginning of a new phase of museum exhibitions at Shaker Village. These fully-realized exhibits will be a model for the museum experiences we will construct in buildings across the property. Combined with tours, workshops and other learning experiences, immersive exhibits will tell the story of the Pleasant Hill Shakers to our guests in a new and exciting way.

Be on the lookout for upcoming announcements about the opening of this new experience! We look forward to new generations of guests experiencing the legacy of the Kentucky Shakers.

Next Month: We’ll discuss the grand opening of this new exhibit, and how we evaluate the impact of the experience on our visitors.

Local Economies, Global Impacts is funded in part through a Museums for America matching grant, administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month

Melissa Williams, Development Coordinator

Imagine yourself standing on the turnpike here at Shaker Village. Close your eyes for a moment.

Can you feel the soft, rustling breeze through the trees? The sun shining warm on your face? Each step you take is accompanied by the crunch of gravel on the path. In the distance the ducks are quacking, the donkey brays. There’s a group of people up ahead on a tour listening intently to the guide. They are nodding and smiling.

How do you feel in the moment?

This Place Matters

When our nonprofit organization formed in the 1960s, the original board members and the public worked tirelessly to restore the Village. It was a not an easy undertaking. They persevered because they felt the same way you feel when you visit Pleasant Hill: this place is special.

How is it special? It’s hard to articulate an answer to that question.

It’s educational.  It’s entertainment. It’s fun. It’s an escape.

It’s a sense of peace. A feeling of lightness. A connection to nature and to beauty.

It’s hope in the midst of a chaotic world.

Finding Relevance Today

The 1820 Meeting House.

The Shakers built their environment to reflect their view of Heaven on Earth. Interestingly, their view of Heaven on Earth was adapted over time – both proactively and reactively. One notable example was the shift in how the Village was oriented. The community was initially laid out north to south.  Within the first 20 years of establishing the Village, the orientation shifted to run east to west as the turnpike remains today. While there were likely multiple factors in this decision, the New Madrid earthquake in 1811 damaged the original meeting house. The need to construct a new Meeting House may have been the impetus for this change.

It’s lessons like this that the Pleasant Hill Shakers left us to examine. Their ability to adapt over time and their resilience is an important example that we can find relevance in as we navigate our changing world.

Celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month

Today more than ever, we all need someplace where we can take refuge. A place where we can rest. Where we can reflect. Where we can consider steps we can each individually take to help adapt our communities to be more inclusive, equitable, cohesive and proactive.

This year we join the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of National Arts and Humanities Awareness Month.

“Three and a half decades after its official recognition, National Arts and Humanities Month takes on new relevance to American life today. Music inspires and uplifts us, poems and stories spark our imagination, and museums teach us about the world and ourselves. The arts and humanities have the power to unite us, to heal us, to sustain us, to help us better understand each other, and to guide us through challenging times.” – joint statement by IMLS, NEA and NEH.

Shaker Village is a place where everyday we think about the human experience and study history, philosophy, religion, community development and more. Sixty years ago, the leaders of our nonprofit could not have guessed just how important Shaker Village would be today, but today it’s certain that Pleasant Hill will remain special for generations to come.

Access for All

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Marketing and Public Programming

34 historic structures. 36 miles of hiking trails. 3,000 acres of natural and cultural landscape.

The vastness of the experience at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is an incredible attraction for the guests that travel from around the world to visit Kentucky’s largest National Historic Landmark. However, this grand scale can also be a challenge for guests with limited mobility.

The Challenge

Consider the 34 historic structures at Pleasant Hill. Of these, 20 are buildings with multiple levels. While we admire the simple elegance of Shaker staircases, in the words of one recent guest, “They were great at building stairs, but not so much elevators, huh?”

Though this comment was made in jest (and the guest was probably a bit winded from the climb), providing inclusive access to spaces throughout a historic property is a very real challenge. Here are three specific areas we’re working to address:

  1. The historic, Shaker sidewalks that remain at Pleasant Hill are typically too narrow for wheelchairs, walkers and scooters. They can also become worn and uneven through aging, increasing the risk of slips, trips and falls.
  2. All of the 13 buildings that contain overnight guest rooms at the property currently require guests to navigate at least one step to access.
  3. Although there are educational exhibits in a dozen buildings at Shaker Village, only three of these buildings are accessible for guests using a wheelchair, and even in those, that access is restricted to only portions of the building.

So, how do we provide better access for guests with limited mobility, without damaging the aesthetic and historic integrity of this irreplaceable Village?

You Have to Start Somewhere

To be fair, there have been prior efforts toward accessibility at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. There are outdoor lifts to provide access into The Trustees’ Table restaurant and to meeting spaces in the West Lot Dwelling. Public restrooms at the Village are accessible as well. The difference today is that these efforts are now part of a strategic planning process, and are being emphasized as a critical part of our site plan moving forward.

The biggest limitation to implementing plans for increased accessibility at Shaker Village is, of course, funding. Fortunately, we have been able to complete several projects through the generosity of private and corporate donors.

In 2020 the Village installed 20 outdoor, educational waystations thanks to a gift from Community Trust Bank. These waystations were placed in locations that are accessible, and have made a positive impact for those guests who are unable to navigate the multiple levels of exhibits in many of the buildings.

Around the same time, new pathways that meet ADA standards were created near the 1820 Meeting House and through the heirloom apple orchard. These paths are part of a larger plan to connect all the major buildings at Shaker Village with ADA compliant paths and sidewalks, and were made possible by the contribution of an individual donor.

Continuing the Progress

This month, two projects are underway that will dramatically impact accessibility at two of the most important buildings at Shaker Village.

The 1815 Carpenter’s Shop serves as the Welcome Center for the Village. While a sidewalk addition in 2017 made it possible for all guests to enter the building from one side, passing through the building and into the Village has been prohibitive for guests in wheelchairs. A new, permanent ramp is being constructed that will resolve this issue.

The 1839 Trustees’ Office, home to The Trustees’ Table restaurant, is also seeing an upgrade to improve accessibility. A new sidewalk is currently being laid, leading to the front entrance of the building and connecting to the lift on the building’s east side. By replacing a non-historic stone path that had many bumps and divots, this sidewalk is not only ADA compliant, but much safer for all of the restaurant’s patrons.

Where Do We Go From Here

The Shaker Village app will bring the story of Pleasant Hill to more guests with multimedia options.

In the coming years, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill will continue to make improvements that increase access on the property for all guests.

Here are some projects to keep an eye on in the months and years to come:

  • The Shaker Village App is about to go live! The App will provide an additional layer of educational information for all guests to the Village, and the multimedia content, with closed captioning, will not only provide more access for visitors with limited mobility, but also those with visual and hearing impairments.
  • More ADA compliant sidewalks, pathways and ramps will be built. There are still several important areas of the Village where access needs to be improved. In the coming years you’ll see work to provide this access in the East Family area of the Village, at key buildings like the Meeting House, and around trailheads and hiking trails in The Preserve.
  • Select guest rooms will be modified to meet ADA standards. This step will take a while, but we have our eyes on some spaces where building access and ADA compliance can be accomplished while maintaining the historic integrity of the buildings.

As with all undertakings of true value, there isn’t a shortcut to improving accessibility across a 3,000 acre historic property. Along the way there will be difficulties, and it will never move as quickly as we would like. However, Shaker Village should be a place where every single person can feel ‘kindly welcomed,’ and we are committed to living up to that standard.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support accessibility projects at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, please contact us at info@shakervillageky.org or call 859.734.5411.