Reflections of an Early Board Member

Edith S. Bingham

We were driving through Shakertown. It was in 1964 or ’65, when the state road ran right through the middle, past a filling station, then the Meeting House and the Trustees Office, opposite the Centre Family Dwelling, and on toward the East Family Dwelling. As a lover of architectural history, I was thrilled with the handsome buildings that Barry Bingham, Sr. was showing me so enthusiastically! He and Mary had helped enable the purchase of these buildings, and the historic property.

Edith S. Bingham

How exciting it was to think of this site as a major attraction right there in central Kentucky! For me, learning the history and appreciating Shaker culture, the beauty of simple living and design, led to 30+ years of supporting and enjoying the structures and landscapes.

I remember the early decades that required restoration of the historic structures and the farm under the inspired management of Jim Thomas. Visitors enjoyed simple menus and local specialties in the dining rooms of the Trustees’ Office after passing by the elegant double spiral staircase.

“We make you kindly welcome.”

The 1815 Shaker Carpenter’s Shop as a Shell Filling Station c. mid 20th century.

As the ‘90s advanced, a more prosperous economy brought more visitors to the site, eager to enjoy more comforts and varied experiences at Pleasant Hill. Eventually, alcohol could be served to visitors, and menus were updated to keep up with the “culinary” market.

Costumed interpreters outside the 1824 Centre Family Dwelling c. late 1960s.

Now, carefully researched educational exhibits expose all ages to the details of Kentucky Shaker history. Wagon rides add a sense of agricultural connection to the land. Powerful messages of worship, hard work, and simplicity as recipes for beauty and purposeful lives remain for all to enjoy and contemplate.

Modern interpreters guide visitors through a variety of educational programs.

Pleasant Hill’s stunning site and landscapes invite many activities which help support the maintenance of the village as well as increase the number of visitors who can enjoy a rural countryside, take deep breaths of comfort in the shade of the ancient trees or walk down to the landing on the Kentucky River, a travel route for the Native Americans as well as many of the earliest surveyors and settlers in KY.

It has been a remarkable honor and experience to serve on the Board and support the restoration of this fabulous site, perhaps the most complete example of a Shaker community to be restored and still survive today.

The Carpenters’ Shop is getting some TLC!

CarpenterShopGasStn GS

As a Shell Gas Station in the 1960s

Built in 1815 as a smith and wagon makers’ shop, the red brick Carpenters’ Shop has held a front-row seat to Kentucky history in action. It’s seen horse-drawn wagons traveling the toll road and Civil War soldiers marching into battle. It’s seen a remarkable culture built, grow, adapt, fade, restored, preserved and shared.

For more than 200 years, the building has been preserved through adaptive reuse by Shakers, rural farmers and businessmen, and early preservationists. Today, we are pleased to announce that the Carpenters’ Shop will undergo much needed preservation and rehabilitation work this spring. Over the next few months, the structure will be stabilized by the installation of a new wood shake roof; the repairing and painting of wood soffits, fascias and trim; and the repairing and painting of interior plaster, wood trim and casework.

During Resoration, 1966

During restoration, 1966

The project also includes refurbishing the building’s interior spaces to create a centralized sales and information hub for Shaker Village guest services. This center will serve as the jumping off point for the site experience and a guidepost for new programs and hospitality services. The setting will be unmistakably Shaker, thoughtful and simple, but punctuated with progressive technologies and designs that serve form and function.

Guests will have a comfortable one-stop location to check-in, purchase tickets and learn about Village happenings. In addition, new hands-on interpretive and shopping experiences will be introduced inside the space. The project continues the preservation of this important building, while creating a new level of convenience and functionality for guests and staff alike.

Starting today, guests should visit the Trustees’ Office for all of their check-in and purchasing needs. Brooms, oval boxes and other regular shop merchandise are available for sale inside the Trustees’ Office Shop and the Post Office.

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As a gift shop, 2016

Stay tuned–we’ll be unveiling the new welcome experience later this spring!


Preserve history now! Shaker Village inspires generations through discovery by sharing the legacies of the Kentucky Shakers. The National Historic Landmark preserves 34 original shaker structures and 3,000 acres of conserved land. Help us inspire generations with a tax deductible gift!