Plain, Simple and Painstaking: Preserving a Village, One Paperclip at a Time

Preservation has been central to the mission of Shaker Village from the time of its incorporation in 1961 and has been an ongoing effort ever since. Because the Shakers were practitioners of preservation themselves, Shaker Village is fortunate to have surviving portions of the Shakers’ material culture. The documents, artifacts, fences, gravestones, buildings and barns, which are now under our stewardship, require attention, care and frequent preservation. From major rehabilitation projects like the upcoming work planned for the 1824 Centre Family Dwelling and 1820 Meeting House, replacing the roof and renovating the interior of the Carpenters’ Shop and restoring the exterior of West Family Wash House to housing sensitive items of the Collection in a climate-controlled storage facility, at Shaker Village, preservation is always present and always at work.

For loftier undertakings, we may bring in consultants to ensure preservation success; but the day-to-day preservation of the Village’s 3-dimensional and archival materials lies in the hands of our Collections staff. Things like sorting and rehousing piles of newspapers in acid-free boxes, using cloth tape to secure detached book covers to their bindings, removing sticky-notes from book pages, ensuring 3-dimensional objects are stored up off the ground on shelves and platforms, laying textiles flat in secure, tissue-lined cabinets and monitoring objects for pests and mold are all a part of preserving the history of the Shakers.

 

See an original copy of The Manifesto on display in the East Family Wash House as a part of our Shaker Modern exhibit.

But, the preservation of treasured materials isn’t reserved strictly to the professionals: it’s something many folks do every day without even realizing it!

You might not think about it at the time, but when you do something as simple as organize bills or receipts in a filing cabinet, you’re doing something to preserve them for when you may need them down the road. Believe it or not, that’s PRESERVATION@WORK!

Whether it be for the coming months, years or generations, we all have things we’d like to keep for the future. Here are some ways you can put preservation to work in your own life:

  • Keep documents and artifacts in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight—not in the basement or attic where temperature and humidity can fluctuate with the seasons.
  • Avoid grouping or marking documents using metal paperclips, rubber bands, staples, tape, sticky-notes or dog-earring. While actions like this may seem harmless at the time, they can be damaging to the items you’re trying to preserve. Instead, if documents need to be grouped or marked, use plastic paper clips or acid-free paper and folders.
  • Something as simple as covering furniture with a sheet, quilt or moving blanket can help preserve 3-dimensional objects while in storage.
  • Refrain from sealing photographs, newspaper articles and other paper documents in lamination, non-archival page-protectors or photo sleeves. These types of plastics are more harmful than helpful and will actually result in a more rapid deterioration of what you’re trying to save.
  • Like living creatures, documents and objects need space and room to breathe. Never try to cram items into envelopes, folders, boxes, shelves or tight spaces. Give documents and objects ample space in their storage locations.
  • Less is more. The less you access, handle and use your prized books, documents, artifacts, textiles, furniture and memorabilia, the more time you and future generations of your family will have with them. While handling rare and special items for reference, research and display, it’s best to do so with care, caution and infrequency to ensure their longevity.

Do you have a favorite outfit you just can’t seem to part with? The Shakers did, too! Come see a dress that was rehabilitated over the years by the Shaker who wore it on display in the East Family Wash House as a part of our Shaker Modern exhibit.

Preservation can be painstaking—sometimes a matter of replacing one paperclip at a time. But whether you’re a preservation pupil or pro, it’s often the basics that end up making the greatest difference.


Take part in our history! Join us June 3 to celebrate, as we kick off our largest preservation project since the 1960s. Tour the buildings, speak with the project’s architects and learn about our grant-funded, multi-phase effort to preserve, protect and interpret the Village’s spiritual center.

Make a difference! No matter how big or small, your gift can make a difference. Help us preserve Shaker Village by giving today! 


Emálee Krulish, Archivist

Explorer Summer Camp

IMG_9132With the rainy Derby season upon us, it’s hard to think that Summer is just around the corner. We’re excited for a lot of things this Summer at Shaker Village, but it’s hard to top summer camp. We think our staff looks forward to it just as much as the kids do! Here’s what one of our camp counselors had to say about their camp experience last year:

This year, for the very first time, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill held our very own summer camp program—aptly titled Explorer Camp. And explore we did! Our days were jam packed with all sorts of activities. Campers moved through four main skill areas: Farm and Garden, Arts and Crafts, Nature and Outdoor Living Skills. Each day, campers learned how to do things like build fires and shelters, how to groom horses, what types of plants and animals live in The Preserve, and how natural items can be used to create unique pieces of artwork.

 

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Fun wasn’t just limited to skill areas though. Our days started off with silly songs at the Amphitheater, then campers got a chance to explore the Village with their counselors in smaller family groups. Throughout the week, we went on adventures like hiking into The Preserve and riding on the Dixie Belle Riverboat. Of course, we also enjoyed playing GaGa Ball, a fan favorite among campers and counselors alike. Played in a circle made of hay bales, this game involves using an open palm to try and hit other players below the knees with a ball. Even some of the parents jumped in during pick-up times!

 

Overall, we were able to take advantage of the amazing natural and historic resources available at Shaker Village to create a unique experience for those who attended camp. Feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to expanding the program in the future to serve even more kids!

IMG_9807I think it’s safe to say everyone had a good time. We can’t wait to explore again this year with a new bunch of kids (and some old friends we hope)! Sorry parents, but as of now, our summer camp is for KIDS only! If you are looking for a getaway, check out the Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free package at The Inn this summer. Consider staying the week at Shaker Village and exploring on your own, while the kids enjoy camp.


Explorer Summer Camp is offered June 12-16, 19-23 and 26-30 for children ages 6-12. If you have any questions about our camp program, contact Jacob Glover at jglover@shakervillageky.org. We would love to hear from you! Learn more about Explorer Summer Camp.

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. 

Wisdom’s Voice

Wisdom's Voice

The Shakers were a remarkably musical people, filling handwritten hymnals with thousands of songs expressing their religious fervor and adoration. Wisdom’s Voice is the first recording composed entirely of Shaker songs written here and is the first time that many of these songs have been heard since the 19th century. 

Any Shaker was welcome to write music for worship, and there are a number of composers who show up over and over again and contributed a remarkable amount to Pleasant Hill’s creative output. I have come to know their musical styles fairly well, so my own favorite composers appear on Wisdom’s Voice, with Hortency Hooser, Samuel Hooser and Lucinda Shain making frequent appearances. Perhaps my favorite Pleasant Hill composer is Polly McLain Rupe, whose tender and soulful songs appear four times on the recording. Polly was born in 1826 and arrived at Pleasant Hill in 1835 at the age of 8. She lived here until her death in 1875, serving as a teacher and an eldress. Her prolific composition was a gift to the Shakers, and today, it is a gift for us as well. 

The Shakers invented their own system of musical notation for writing music. It’s a letteral notation, where the letters A through G represent the notes of the scale. Countless Shaker songs still exist only in this handwritten notation, and it is a long and meticulous process to transcribe this music into classical notation and bring it into the modern day so that it can be sung and heard by all. I learned to read Shaker notation from the Shakers’ own teaching tools and transcribed most of the songs on this recording from the original manuscripts held in the archives here. 

When selecting songs, I sat down with photocopies of three handwritten Pleasant Hill hymnals (the originals are far too fragile for frequent handling!) and simply turned through the pages. If a title or text struck me, I explored the melody on the piano and took note of the ones that stayed with me. There are countless beautiful and worthwhile Shaker songs still waiting to be sung, but it was a joy to record these songs that I love the most.

We recorded in the Meeting House, built in 1820 as the Shakers’ worship space. It is a beautiful building with incredible acoustics, which we strove to capture for the listener. With one solo voice filling the space, it is a deeply intimate recording. 

It is my hope that this recording will foster a deeper connection to Pleasant Hill and the people who called this place home. Their music connects us across time and reminds us that the artistic expression of human passion is timeless. It has been a joy to create Wisdom’s Voice, and it is my fond hope that it will bring joy to many others as well. 


Carys Kunze, Program Specialist for Music and Art


Wisdom’s Voice: Shaker Songs Recorded in the 1820 Meeting House is a recording composed of Pleasant Hill Shaker songs. It features the voice of program specialist for music and art Carys Kunze, who performs regularly at the Village. Wisdom’s Voice can be purchased in The Shops and online.

Hello, November

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We set The Preserve on fire! Every year, Shaker Village fields are managed on a 2-year fire rotation to maximize conditions for habitat. Controlled burns are an integral part of the restoration and maintenance of the more than 1,200 acres of native warm season grasses and wildflowers found throughout the 3,000-acre property. Burns, such as this one, are carried out as part of our property management plan. Funded through grants from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) and the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS), our projects have returned the land to the prairie appearance that existed prior to the Shakers’ settlement of the area.

During the last 10 years, we have successfully converted 1,200 acres of unproductive pasture land into native prairie grasses and wildflowers. The results have been extraordinary—60+ coveys of wild Northern Bobwhite quail (the highest density of this declining species in Kentucky) and thriving insect, songbird and mammal populations.

You can see more about Shaker Village and quail restoration on This American Land airing on PBS later this year.

We take a “bottom up” ecosystem approach to quail management. We start at the bottom by providing high quality habitat consisting of native warm season grasses and wildflowers. Through late-winter prescribed fire and field specific management, we hold succession in check and provide premium nesting and brood rearing habitat in adjacent fields. We work to provide woody cover and “rough edges” to support quail across the entire range of habitat types they prefer. Our efforts not only support quail, but all other organisms that thrive in a native prairie ecosystem. Through intense monitoring of the quail and songbird population, we are able to see how our management positively affects overall bird populations. We also are able to determine sustainable hunting limits for quail with proceeds from hunting supporting The Preserve at Shaker Village and 1,200 acres of high quality quail habitat.


Join us this month for a Quail Dinner.
Learn more about our Land Conservation work.
Consider donating to Shaker Village to help us continue to make great things happen here.

Please note: The Preserve and trails will be closed Mondays – Fridays from Nov. 1 – Dec. 30 for habitat and wildlife management and trail restoration work.
The trails along River Road (River Road Trail and Palisades Trail) will be open every day for guests who want to hike/walk during the week. All trails will be open Saturdays and Sundays in November and December.


Ben Leffew is the preserve manager. A Kentucky Proud product straight out of Boyle County…