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…

Celebrating 225 Years of Kentucky

On June 1, 1792, Kentucky entered the union as the nation’s 15th state. While Shaker missionaries wouldn’t grace the borders of the Commonwealth for another 13 years, by 1792, one of Kentucky’s future Shaker converts was already living on the tract of land which would eventually serve as the birthplace of the Pleasant Hill community. Elisha Thomas and his family owned “140 acres of land considerably improved on either side of Shawnee Run,” where, in 1806, the first members of what became the Society of Pleasant Hill initially gathered and “opened their minds” to the Shaker faith.[1]

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Here, they built the community’s first meeting house, which, despite looking more like a stand than a proper assembly hall, served as the Shakers’ first place of worship. Soon the fledgling group of Shaker converts settled upon a more permanent place to accommodate the needs of their growing community. For more than a century, their new location—just 1.5 miles up the hill to where the Village now stands today—welcomed more than 2,400 Kentuckians, immigrants, wayfarers and settlers from no less than 50 Kentucky counties, 13 countries and 29 states. And today, with a little help from our Trail Map, modern-day guests can see where it all began.

While it’s only about a 1-mile hike from the Centre Trailhead to the geographical genesis of the Pleasant Hill Shakers, in total, the Pelly Trail—the only trail to provide access to the 500 acres of Village property south of US-68—is a 5-mile loop, best suited for hikers and horseback riders. Cyclists are welcome on this moderately difficult trail, but like the other 12 trails on the property, it’s not maintained for mountain biking. This portion of the Village’s 1,200 acres of native prairie can be reached exclusively by traveling through the culvert beneath the highway, so be prepared to get a little wet along the way. [2]

Two hundred twenty-five years after Kentucky forged its way to statehood, this property continues to serve as a gathering ground for families and individuals like Elisha Thomas and Pleasant Hill’s founding members. Here, we’re charged with the stewardship of this property’s natural and historical assets, which is why every day we’re working to conserve the land, preserve the buildings and provide families and individuals (like you!) access to the rich heritage left for us by the Pleasant Hill Shakers and their early-Kentucky predecessors. From maintaining 37 miles of trails throughout The Preserve to undertaking architectural rehabilitation projects in The Historic Centre, we’re on a mission to inspire generations of trailblazers and pioneering spirits, just like those who spearheaded Kentucky’s path to statehood 225 years ago.

Learn more about Kentucky’s path to statehood and other destinations throughout the Commonwealth at the KY 225 Commission’s website, where all Kentucky travelers are encouraged to share their Kentucky 225 anniversary adventures by using #ky225. 

Discover Shaker Village! Become an Annual Passholder and explore with us all year long.


1 Information obtained from The origins and progress of the Society of Pleasant Hill. Original manuscript held by Harrodsburg Historical Society, Harrodsburg, KY.

2 During times of high water, the culvert on the Pelly Trail may become impassible. All explorers who use The Trails at Shaker Village do so at their own risk and must sign in at the The Inn front desk to sign a property usage waiver before hitting the trails.

Shaker Village Gift Guide

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As the holidays quickly approach, we’ve got a little something for everyone on your shopping list! From adventures at Shaker Village to handcrafted items and goods, these gifts are sure to please.

1. Shaker Village Honey Shakers brought Italian bees to Pleasant Hill in 1866. Today, we use Italian bees in our hives to educate about sustainability and beekeeping, and to create this delicious, golden honey. $9-16

2. Shaker Village Carrier Ornament Handcrafted cherry ornament made exclusively for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. $19

3. Gift Certificate  Too tough to decide which part of the Shaker Village experience suits best? Purchase a Shaker Village gift certificate! Gift certificates are valid towards meals, overnight accommodations, retail purchases, village admission and riverboat rides. Available in $20 and $50 increments.

4. Simple Gifts, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Shaker Village CD The Simple Gifts: The Chamber Music Society at Shaker Village CD recording captures a historic moment in American history—the first performance of Aaron Copland’s landmark ballet score Appalachian Spring in the heart of an authentic Shaker village, Kentucky’s historic Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Recorded live in May 2015. $21

5. Annual Membership to Shaker Village  Gift an Annual Pass to an individual or family and let them reap the benefits all year long. Passholders receive unlimited free admission and riverboat rides, 10% discount on retail purchases, insider emails and promotions, and more! While you’re at it, better grab one for your family too! $25-100

6. Shaker Oval Box Perhaps the most recognizable Shaker product, oval boxes were traditionally made for storing food in pantries. Today, they are perfect for storing all sorts of things! Available in six sizes and five colors. $35-90

7. Kentucky Fresh Cookbook Go on a delightful seasonal food journey and cook with The Green Apron Company’s Maggie Green using fresh Kentucky ingredients. A great gift the food lover on your list! $30

8. Shaker Village Gift Sets Let us package the perfect gift for you! These gift sets are wrapped up and ready to go under your tree. Available online only. $20-100

9. Shaker Broom Handmade here at Shaker Village by our master craftsman. They say they last 25 years! $7-40

10. Shaker Village Card Set A custom set of blank linen cards that features winter images of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. $16


Discover the Perfect Gift! Shop signature Shaker oval boxes, logo merchandise and seasonally-inspired gifts, as well as unique children’s gifts, books, soaps and lotions, jams and jellies, Shaker reproductions and more! Visit our three onsite shops located in the Carpenters’ Shop, Post Office and Trustees’ Office, each of which offers a unique selection of products and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Shop online now. {Get FREE Shipping through December 31st on all order over $100 with promo code HOLIDAY!}

The Shops Open House December 3
Join us for demonstrations with David Kramer and Joe Offerman, refreshments and a 20% SALE on any purchase!

Your online and onsite purchases generate revenue to keep Shaker Village 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.

Hello, November

burn

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…

Pleasant Hill Personalities

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The legacy of the Pleasant Hill Shaker community has often been assessed exclusively through their material culture.  However, each physical item is inseparable from the people who used these items while alive.  During its century of existence as a Shaker community, more than 2,000 people called Pleasant Hill home – each with a unique background, experience, personality, set of quirks, hopes, dreams, desires and reasons for being a part of this endeavor.  It’s this uniqueness that makes their accomplishments so striking.  They were a completely un-relatable group of people who were all drawn for some reason to the community.  And they all, in some way, helped to make history.

Meet some of the Pleasant Hill Shakers:

  • Mary Settles, a single woman who arrived with two small children.  Later in life, she was described as one whose “personality permeated the entire house,” as she engaged visitors on subjects ranging from Shaker theology to American politics.
  • William Pennebaker arrived as an orphan who survived the death of his parents and was brought by extended family members to live with the Shakers, with whom he spent the remaining 73 years of his life!  He was described as “an upright, truthful man, quiet and peaceable in his demeanor.” Yet he must have also had a big personality that clashed with others, as he was at one time engaged in a long feud that culminated in his assault by other members of the community – and resulted in the accidental wounding of one of his attackers!
  • William S. Byrd was noted as a person of “honourable standing,” – he was “a descendant of the prestigious Byrd family of Virginia, distinguished for more than four generations by its wealth, prominence, and leadership in American society” (quoted in Stephen J. Stein, Letters from a Young Shaker, p.1).
  • Napoleon Brown served in the Union army during the Civil War, and following the war somehow found his way to Pleasant Hill.  Shortly thereafter, he was placed in the local lunatic asylum.  Whatever his ailment was, he got it together, and by the end of the same year was back and contributing to the community in a meaningful manner.
  • Jonah Crutcher was one of multiple African American members with a fascinating story:  “Today we purchased Jonas Crutcher, a colored man, who has been a Believer about 19 years, we keeping him hired here to accommodate him for that purpose, while his owners retained him as a slave; and now to prevent them from dragging him away we have purchased him that he may enjoy the privilege of being one of the brethren on equal terms with the rest of us” (January 4, 1859).  Upon his death, it was noted of this former slave that “He was much respected & beloved in the family where he resided, which was not misplaced, for he was worthy.” (September 6, 1861)
  • J. R. Bryant, the picture of courage, showed great intestinal fortitude when he stared down the barrel of a Confederate soldier’s gun, and had bullets whizzing by his head during a guerilla raid on the community…(which he did to secure the safety of his brethren).
  • John B. Shain, a strict vegetarian, advocated exercise and “free use of water both drinking and bathing.”  He lived until the ripe old age of 92.
  • Micajah Burnett was a man of superior intellect and was described as “the principal architect of this village.” He was not only an intelligent person, but also a hard worker, who at the age of 78 was going on trading trips as far away as New Orleans.
  • Kitty Jane Ryan, among others, enjoyed the occasional break from a hard day of work.  She reported one evening that “the Sisters went to the West Pond to see the brethren skate.  We had a very amusing time, we sit in chairs and sailed over the pond like lightning, assisted by the brethren who skate…” (January 6, 1860).
  • Benjamin Dunlavy, a man who wielded a pen as well as anyone, appears to have had quite the dramatic tendency – even when reporting something as straightforward as the weather: “With a mild, pleasant evening, such as we have enjoyed the past week, the thermometer at 50° at dark, the old year was gliding out almost as gentle as the balmy zephyrs of May – When Lo, & Behold! Old Boreas with his northern hordes, made a sudden dash upon the sunny South, completely surprising her principal Chief, (Mercury,) who was so shocked at the humiliating disaster, that his spirits made a sudden plunge into despondency, and continued the descent for about twelve hours, making 60 degrees at one leap, & was found 8 degrees below zero at sunrise this morning…” (January 1, 1864).
  • Henry Daily, a man who might very well have been village curmudgeon: “The Centre Family…have Andrew Bloomberg a Swede for second Elder & he has a dog following him wherever he goes…This is not according to Shakerism but belong without…If we all had a dog we would all starve before spring since we have very little to live on & cannot afford a dog for each member in the Society.  The dog is a perfect nuisance anyhow and them that keep them are no better certain.” (September 20, 1887)

What brought a single mother, an orphan, an aristocrat, a former soldier with mental instability, a health nut, a drama queen and a guy who didn’t like dogs together in one place?  If there was a reason beyond religious conviction, we will never know for sure.  But one thing is for sure about this motley crew: it isn’t exactly the kind of group you would assemble if you needed to save the world.  And yet, they created and maintained their own amazing world at Pleasant Hill.

Who do you relate to most? See personalities like these and more in our Shaker Selfies exhibit on view now in Centre Family!


Aaron Genton is the collections manager. A love of history led him to study and work in the field….