What’s that Noise?

NOTICE: PRESERVATION@WORK Geothermal drilling will commence no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and will cease no later than 6 p.m. each day Oct. 2-6. Noise and vibration are to be expected.

Work on the Centre Family Dwelling and Meeting House has begun! And with that comes chainlink fences, construction equipment and loud noises. Sounds lovely, right? Actually, it really is! It’s the sound of preservation@work—work that will extend the lives of these two buildings, work that will prepare them for new interpretive experiences, work that would make the Shakers proud. So, while your Shaker Village experience will be different for the next year, we ask that you embrace this project and use it as a learning opportunity. During the next 12 months, our daily adventures schedule will feature special tours and activities highlighting the work being done on both buildings. We want you to be a part of this village@work project. Come see what’s happening! Ask questions, take a tour or read more here.

First up on the to-do list is drilling wells for the geothermal heating and cooling system.

Q: What are geothermal wells?
A: Geothermal wells are wells that tap into the natural energy found beneath the Earth. These wells will be attached to water source heat pumps inside the buildings, which maintain stable indoor temperatures.

Q: How does a geothermal system work?
A: The surface of the Earth can get quite cold or hot at times. The area beneath the Earth’s crust has a relatively stable temperature and geothermal energy utilizes this heat to provide heating or cooling for structures.

Q: How many wells are we drilling?
A: 36 total—24 for the Centre Family Dwelling and 12 for the Meeting House.

Q: How deep are the wells?
A: 380-400 feet!

Q: How are the wells connected to the building?
A: Each well has “unicoil” of pipe inside the well, a “supply” and “return in the shape of a U.” Each well is inter-connected into a pipe system, known as the “loop.” The main supply and return pipes are connected to pumps inside the building. This is known as a “closed loop” system. The system is sealed so no fluid is exchanged with the environment.

Q: What’s in the pipes?
A: The pipes are filled with glycol, a fluid similar to antifreeze in your car. The fluid doesn’t freeze and can transfer heat better than ordinary water.

Q: So how does it all work?
A: In winter, the system collects the Earth’s natural heat through the loop. The fluid circulates through the loop and carries the heat to the building. There, an electrically-driven compressor and a heat exchanger concentrate the heat and release it inside the building at a higher temperature. Ductwork distributes the heat to different rooms. In summer, the process is reversed. The loop draws excess heat from the building and allows it to be absorbed by the Earth.

Q: Isn’t it expensive?
A: The short answer is yes. Creating the infrastructure of wells and piping is a cost we have chosen to incur. We also have to create duct work and piping on the building interiors to distribute the heat or air conditioning. Our design team worked tirelessly to do this in ways that are sympathetic to the buildings so the systems are mostly hidden. When we are finished, you will have to look really hard to see where we added them.

Q: Why did Shaker Village choose geothermal?
A: Part of Shaker Village’s mission is to be good stewards of our resources. Geothermal helps us do this in two ways. First, geothermal heat pump systems are more than three times as efficient as the most economical furnace. Instead of burning a combustible fuel to create heat, a ground-source system uses the earth’s energy as heat. Geothermal systems provide three to four units of energy for every one unit used to power the system’s compressor, fan and water pump. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency identify geothermal as having the lowest environmental impact of all heating systems. Secondly, geothermal systems are able to reach very high efficiencies. For example, geothermal heat pump can be up to 600 percent efficient on the coldest days of the year—a normal air source heat pump will only be 175-200 percent efficient on cool days—meaning the geothermal system is using far less electricity than a comparable heat pump, furnace or air conditioner. Thus, this installation will help us save financial resources in the long run on our purchase of electricity.

This project has been in the works for decades. The systems installed during the 1960s in the Centre Family Dwelling and Meeting House  should’ve lasted 25-30 years, but we extended the life of those systems 50 years. Now, it’s time to dedicate the time and resources necessary to prolong the lives of these buildings for the next generation. When we are finished, guests will have a better experience inside the buildings during hot or cold days—regulating the temperature and humidity inside the building help us preserve the buildings and allow us to display furniture and textiles that are too fragile for non-climate controlled spaces. Some big long-term wins for a few weeks of noise and dust.

Preservation work is never completed—ongoing repair, maintenance and upkeep is critical for the sustainability of this site. Thanks to your donations and site revenue, projects like this are possible.


William Updike is the vice president for natural and cultural resource management…

This Place Matters

May is Preservation Month, and we are ready to celebrate! Everyone has places that are important to them. Places they care about. Places that matter. This Place Matters is a national campaign that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities. — savingplaces.org



Have you ever wondered what future generations will know about you? Every now and then that thought wanders through my mind. Every generation leaves a legacy—a story of the people who struggled together, found amazing solutions to the perplexing problems of their day and blazed a trail as a foundation for the next generation that was soon to follow.

Too many times our culture seeks to find new answers to old problems. Knowing our forebears, understanding their struggles and embracing their successes help us to move forward. It is true that those who forget history are destined to repeat it.

This place, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, is replete with the stories of a society dedicated to a common purpose. The lessons that they learned here—the legacy that they left us—teach us how to live together with kindness and respect and to honor the land and the bounty it provides. Their story shouts out from the buildings they created, is captured in the gentle landscape that they loved and oozes from the written record that they left behind.

This place matters because it touches our hearts, encouraging us to be better citizens of this earth—to be people who inspire greatness in others and to be gentle and kind to those who struggle. Each generation leaves something behind. What will you leave behind? This place gives us direction, it inspires us to reach new heights and it gives us comfort to know that together we can build a legacy just as enduring as the one they left us. This place matters. Maynard Crossland


It’s a gathering of guests, co-workers and friends alike. It’s a place where new families are formed, meals are shared and history is made daily. Co-workers gather in the morning to make sure all guests are treated with great hospitality and knowledge of the Shakers who once lived here. It’s a beautiful place where beautiful weddings are performed and families come together. This unique little village is a place I not only call my workplace, but also where my life adventures happen. Wally Bottoms


Shaker Village matters because what the Shakers created should be preserved. Whitney Franklin



It’s more important, and maybe more difficult than ever, for all of us to remember that we’re part of the same village. We’re all in this together. Shaker Village allows us to take a moment to consider how strong we can be when we work as one team—and in balance with the natural world around us. This place inspires us through the example of the Shakers to be our best, together. Billy Rankin


The lives of human beings have changed so much over the last few hundred years that the lifestyles of the Shakers can seem completely irrelevant to our own at first glance. Our connections to our homes—and our land—can easily be overlooked or ignored in today’s high-tech world, but ultimately, our dependence on our physical space is no less real today than it was then. Shaker Village is unique in its ability to connect past and present, to allow the mind to wander freely between the two and with any luck, arrive finally in a future we’d all like to live in. This place matters. Dylan Kennedy


This place matters because the Pleasant Hill Shakers, while gone for nearly a century, are still a relevant group of people today.

This was a place where they looked for solutions to big ideas. The Shakers were here with the question of spiritual perfection in mind. What bigger idea is there than that?! Today, it is a place where both individuals and groups come for inspiration, perhaps from a spiritual standpoint, but often for other reasons. It’s not a stretch to think that big ideas are being tackled here all the time.

It was a home for people who needed a home. The cross-section of different people who came here is striking, and under normal circumstances, I don’t believe that many of these people would have ever crossed tracks. There were single mothers, aristocrats, freed slaves and former soldiers, among many, many others who found their way here. And in many cases, they stayed the rest of their lives. And for those who did leave, they often kept up with those they left behind, often writing letters and visiting periodically. They were family. This was home.

It was a place where they were able to emphasize common humanity of people with whom they strongly disagreed. During the Civil War, large numbers of Union and Confederate soldiers passed through the village. The Shakers were committed to racial equality as an ideal, which would have put them at direct odds with many of the Confederate soldiers who passed through. They were also pacifists, seeing war as an action directly in conflict with Christian identity, and this would have put them directly at odds with any soldier who passed through. Yet, they often experienced soldiers who were starving, injured, ragged and barefoot, and immediately moved to address these needs despite what they might have thought of the ideologies embodied in the uniforms. I think the Shakers teach us that it’s possible to treat those with whom you strongly disagree with a degree of respect and common humanity, and this is one of the more needed lessons in our country today. Aaron Genton



Shaker Village matters to me, because it represents “family.” This is a place that has hosted my family for reunions, day trips,  Mother’s Days, escapes from city life, an experience to share with visiting family and friends, and so much more. Three generations of my family have enjoyed this village and all it has to offer. Now I am enjoying being able to introduce Shaker Village to a fourth generation of my family, by bringing my nieces and nephew out here to explore and meet my work family. Amanda Beverly


Shaker Village matters because it can restore your soul. Brenda Roseman


This place matters because it’s preserving and providing access to the history of a passionate, intelligent, evolving community of people, who woke up, got dressed, went to work, did laundry, mowed the yard, repaired fences, traveled, learned, laughed, cried, grieved, celebrated, made decisions, overcame obstacles and grew as individuals…just like us today. Emálee Krulish



Why does Shaker Village matter to you?

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.