The Shaker Guest House

Jacob Glover, PhD., Program Manager

“It was something out of a Faulkner novel, going there for dinner.” – Dick DeCamp, late 1950s

The Trustees’ Office is one of the most well-known buildings at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. In fact, it’s the building guests most often ask for when they first arrive at our property—and for good reason, our restaurant, The Trustees’ Table, is located inside!

Alongside the restaurant, visitors are also often amazed by the twin spiral staircases that run from the first to the third floor. Constructed by Shaker brother Micajah Burnett, the stairs are so iconic that they are likely some of the most photographed elements of Shaker architecture in America.

Looking down from the third floor of the Trustees’ Office. The mesmerizing effect of the spiral stairs have amazed guests for over 180 years!

These highlights, despite their importance, are only a fraction of the story of the Trustees’ Office itself. For in the story of the Trustees’ Office we can see the rise and fall of Pleasant Hill – and the emergence of Shaker Village…

Built in 1839, the Trustees’ Office today is used in a similar way to how the Shakers would have used the space. It’s a place where food can be acquired, lodging obtained and business conducted. In other words, it was meant to be a building where designated members of the Shaker community (the Trustees) interacted with people from the outside world.

Because it was meant to be a public building, the Trustees’ Office looks quite different from all other structures at Shaker Village. Instead of relying on traditional Shaker designs, Micajah Burnett modeled the Trustees’ Office after public buildings in Lexington and Frankfort. Indeed, with its Flemish bond brickwork and tidy cupola it is a great example of Federal style architecture from the early 1800s!

The 1839 Trustees’ Office today.

As Pleasant Hill prospered in the mid-19th century, the Trustees’ Office remained a hub that attracted visitors and other folks with business connections to the Shaker community. By the 1890s, however, Pleasant Hill’s decline was made manifest when they were forced to sell the Trustees’ Office and an additional 766 acres to John B. Castleman of Louisville to settle a particularly large debt.

The Trustees’ Office was operated as the Shaker Village Guest House (by non-Shakers) for a while. Although the last Shaker passed away at Pleasant Hill in 1923, by the mid-20th century the Trustees’ Office then served as a restaurant owned and operated by Bettye and Robert Renfrew. Dick DeCamp, whose quote opens this blog, remembered the restaurant as a place where guests would “kill a bottle of whiskey” on the steps before going inside to eat.

Circa 1960s. The Trustees’ Office served as the Shaker Guest House with various proprietors from the 1920s to the 1950s. When restoration efforts began in the 1960s, the building was operating as a restaurant. Many rooms were left open for guests to explore, and as you can see, some did more than that!

The Trustees’ Office is also indelibly linked with the beginnings of the non-profit Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill that still preserves the property today—it was the first building purchased in the early 1960s and a crucial step in the restoration that took place throughout nearly two decades!

Today, the Trustees’ Office has modern amenities: electricity, forced air (heating and cooling), and indoor bathrooms. The building did not have these things in the 19th century, but if the Shakers had lasted any longer at this community than what they did, they definitely would have adapted with the times and had those ‘necessities’ installed.

Visit Shaker Village throughout the year to explore the intricacies of the Trustees’ Office, or join a special Behind Closed Door program on Fridays and Saturdays in January and February to learn more about the unique history of this building. Check the daily schedule for exact tour time!

Re-treat Yourself!

(or, why you should stop meeting in boring locations and host your next company retreat @ Shaker Village!)

Sandra Wolcott, Group Sales Manager

I’ve had some time to think about what type of informative blog I could share with you all, and hopefully one that doesn’t seem like a pain to read all of the way through! (Is it too late to turn this into a short podcast?)

So let’s dive right in! I joined the Shaker Village team over a year ago as a Sales Manager and honestly, I keep learning new things about the Shakers and this village every day. It’s pretty rare to have something so unique to offer companies, and many of our visitors have become like a second family to me.

I even get to hang out with ducks, cows, horses and goats twice a week, and I feel like you should have that opportunity as well!

So with that in mind… let’s think about three things to ask yourself before you plan your next company retreat:

  1. Is there a restaurant that provides a private room and serves fresh local ingredients?
  2. What about comfortable meeting spaces that encourages brainstorming, but also gives you some elbowroom?
  3. Would you like an experience that leaves you feeling refreshed?

I have been in Hospitality for almost 10 years and I always ask myself these questions to find out if my venue will hold my attention, or more specifically, be worth the cost.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or as some of you have known it, “Shakertown”, can really be a venue for any type of event (because Hospitality is our jam!)

Now, in Kentucky we have this wonderful landscape to play in. Rolling hills with endless views (also endless bourbon options). Not only that but we have all of this rich history right in our own backyard.

For example…

This building, the West Lot Dwelling, is almost 200 years old and over-looks miles of equestrian trails.

You could meet in an office building made of glass with a city view, or in a row of buildings that overlook a busy road in town, but here at Shaker Village…you get this!

Boomer (the cat) was actually my first tour guide when I joined the team (and my first work friend)! He walked with me to each building until he felt like I was comfortable enough to take it from there. Mostly you’ll find him sleeping in a window or sunbathing on a patch of grass.

My love of Boomer is distracting me!

Let’s get back to showing you some more of our meeting rooms!

Now this building used to be a Shaker wash house. (Give me an excel spreadsheet and some pie charts before manually wringing out clothes any day!) There is even a breakout room upstairs, easy access to a large parking lot, and it is next to buildings with overnight guest rooms.

Shaker Village also has 72 guest rooms to choose from, and each one has its own unique style.

I also have to show you the Cellar in the West Family Dwelling! It has a bar built in, which is perfect for a banquet. There is also a small meeting room on the second floor.

I did save our largest rent-able meeting space for last. The 1820 Meeting House can accommodate up to 100 people! It is also centrally located off the turnpike and used for several of our daily programs. (And, we won’t make you sit on the benches for your meeting. Promise.)

There can be multiple rental options for a retreat here at Shaker Village. Let’s not forget, we also have 3,000 acres to play in. We can customize and tailor each individual group experience. All you have to do is ask!

We have facilitators available for team building and strategic planning. A/V equipment is also available for your convenience, and indoor/outdoor back-up plans are prepared for any weather situation.

We offer catering through our restaurant, and you’ll be amazed at what Chef Amber Hokams can do with fresh ingredients from the garden, and how flexible she can be with dietary restrictions.

So why should you go to a corporate brand when you can actively contribute to a non-profit that keeps history alive?

You will have an experience to always remember here at Shaker Village, and if it isn’t the cows, unique meeting rooms and guest rooms, scenic views, mouthwatering food, or Boomer the Cat, then I don’t know how else to get you here….

Maybe The Dixie Belle! It holds up to 115 passengers and cruises the Kentucky River from Shaker Landing. You can even rent the entire boat and add catering!

The Shakers have a saying that I stand by, in every way.

“We make you kindly welcome.”

I look forward to hearing from you soon! Also, not too bad for my first blog, right?  Maybe I should have added the full-grown ducks…they waddle like penguins around the Village. Next time?

Click here to learn more about hosting your meeting or retreat at Shaker Village!

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!

Trustees' Office

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.

Old Stone Shop 174.2

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.

Trustees' Office 303.1 Bath Trustees Office 305

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…