From Office Space to Quiet Comfort

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

Personnel Only

One goal of the Long-Range Planning process at Shaker Village is to open up more Shaker structures for public access. The 34 historic structures on our 3,000-acre property are the “crown jewels” of our organization’s collection of Shaker material artifacts. Opening these buildings to the public allows a broader understanding of Shaker architecture, community building, leadership hierarchy, utilitarianism and other key facets of life at Pleasant Hill.

The primary challenge to universal access is that daily operations require offices for staff, storage for supplies and other “behind the scenes” infrastructure to allow our businesses and programs to run effectively.

From previous articles in this series you will note that additional offices, storage and infrastructure needs are addressed in major and minor ways within a number of our other projects, showing the important interconnectivity among all the projects of the Long-Range Plan.

As the “dominoes” fall in sequence, the 1821 Ministry’s Workshop is a building that will step forward into the public spotlight once again.

Brief History of the Ministry’s Workshop

In October of 1820, the Pleasant Hill Shakers opened their new Meeting House. This large structure, built to house the Shaker’s Sunday worship, is located in what was then becoming the center of the Pleasant Hill community. Across the road from this house of worship is where construction on the 1824 Centre Family Dwelling would begin four years later, but, prior to that, a new Ministry’s Workshop was
the priority.

The “Ministry” of a Shaker community was often comprised of two Elders and two Eldresses who were tasked with overseeing the spiritual development of the Shakers in their society. The apartments for Ministry members were located on the second floor of the Meeting House, and it was typical in Shaker communities to build the offices for the Ministry very near the Meeting House. The 1821 Ministry’s Workshop is approximately 50 feet east of the 1820 Meeting House.

During its use by the Shakers, the 1821 Ministry’s Workshop served as offices and, later in the 19th century, as retiring rooms (bedrooms). By the end of the 19th century the building, like others in the Village, was sold and used as a private home.

Upon purchase and restoration by our nonprofit organization in the 1960s, the 1821 Ministry’s Workshop has been continuously adapted to fit the needs of the Village. At times serving as the front desk for the hotel, overnight guest rooms and a showroom for Shaker reproduction furniture (below, left), the building currently contains staff offices for the Farm, Preserve and Program teams at Shaker Village (below, right).

We Make You Kindly Welcome

Currently, the Inn at Shaker Village comprises 72 overnight guest rooms in 13 historic, Shaker buildings. Room types vary, from standard hotel rooms, to family suites, to private cottages. Of these, suites and cottages are the most sought after by guests, and our intention for the 1821 Ministry’s Workshop is to convert it to overnight lodging within one of these two categories. While further architectural investigation will be required, the hope of our Long-Range Planning Committee is that this structure, so conveniently located near The Trustees’ Table restaurant and parking, can be converted to a private cottage.

In many ways this intended use seems appropriate, including the parallel to the “Old” 1813 Ministry’s Shop, which also serves as a private, overnight cottage (right). This conversion will relieve a number of pressures from this irreplaceable historic building, and allow it to once again share a piece of the Shaker experience with guests.

Follow Our Progress

Expect to hear more about the progress of our Long-Range Plan projects on social media, through emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, or if you would like to support our efforts, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at or 859.734.1574.

This is the tenth article in an ongoing series outlining long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. New to the series? You can visit our previous articles here:

True North

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

This is the eighth article in an ongoing series outlining long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. New to the series? You can visit our previous articles here:

A Note of Concern

For those who have been following this series of articles about long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, I hope you will forgive me if I draw a conclusion about you. It appears, at least on the surface, that this remarkable place matters to you, and you are interested in its future.

Perhaps you have fond memories of visits to the Village. Maybe you have spent time here with family and friends. You might have been an employee or a volunteer. There’s a chance you have photographs with the landscape and architecture of Pleasant Hill in the background, and the smiling faces of people you love in the foreground.

If any of the above happens to be true, then it is also likely that you have, at some point or another, been concerned for the future of Shaker Village. After all, caring for 34 historic structures and 3,000 acres of natural and cultural landscape presents unique challenges. During your visits you have seen roofs that needed repair, windows that were leaking and plaster that was sagging.

In the last ten years, you have also seen much change at the Village, and a renewed investment in preservation. While we have made many strides and completed dozens of preservation projects, there is one building in particular that stands out as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done: the 1816 North Lot Dwelling.

New Life for the North Lot Dwelling

For the last 15 years, the North Lot Dwelling has been closed to the public. During the late 2000s, as the economy went into depression and the Village’s annual attendance was dropping, several buildings outside of the primary “historic centre” were shuttered due to a lack of resources to keep them open. Now, this once popular guest house with a fascinating history sits in silence, awaiting the next generation of preservationists who will bring it back to life.

For motorists who travel Highway 68 to and from Harrodsburg, the North Lot Dwelling currently appears as an abandoned home, set apart from the beauty of Shaker Village by two lanes of asphalt and a tattered covering of Tyvek. This won’t be the case for much longer. Soon, preservation work will begin to replace the building’s roof and front façade. After additional fundraising is completed, the North Lot Dwelling will return to its historic identity as both a welcoming face of the Village, and as a center for hospitality.

Recent History

After the dissolution of the North Lot Family by the Shakers in 1880, the buildings and adjacent property of the North Lot were soon sold to a private landowner. The following decades saw the North Lot used as a residence and for storage. In 1966 the North Lot Dwelling, now the last remaining extant building of the North Lot, and surrounding land was purchased by the nonprofit that manages Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. After restoration efforts that began in the late 1970s were completed in 1981, the North Lot Dwelling began to host overnight guests and small retreats in 1982. The three story building included a full kitchen, five bedrooms and a large sitting area that could be converted to meeting space.

A 1982 report to the Shaker Village Board of Trustees’ stated, “The North Lot rooms are all open. Brown-Forman brought a group here this week and stayed overnight for two nights. They were delighted with it. The large first floor sitting area worked well for a meeting space.

Not only was the building a favorite for small meeting groups, due to its flexible space, full amenities and private setting, but families also found it appealing for getaways and retreats. Although the Village has a variety of family-friendly suites and cottages, no other overnight space could accommodate over a dozen guests in a “single” space.

The exterior of the North Lot Dwelling began to degrade after its public closure in the late 2000s. Some efforts were made on superficial repairs in the 2010s, but upon discovering the depth of preservation work required, especially where water had infiltrated around windows and doors, that work was stopped and a Tyvek cover was placed over the vulnerable west façade. The building has remained in this state, slowly degrading while being accessed rarely.

Brighter Future

Shaker Village’s Long-Range Planning Committee toured the North Lot Dwelling extensively before making recommendations for the future of this historic building. The first priority is, of course, preservation. As mentioned above, work to replace the roof and repair the front façade should begin later this year, thanks to the generous donations of several caring individuals. As additional funding becomes available, our teams will complete the preservation of the building’s exterior, safeguarding the structure from continued water damage.

Once exterior work is completed, attention will turn to the interior of the building. Plaster walls and ceilings, wood trim, wood floors, stairwells, steps and fixtures will all be cleaned, repaired and, where needed, replaced. New appliances and installations will modernize the kitchen and bathrooms. The building will be refurnished and decorated with an eye to Shaker design and modern comfort.

Flexible Space

Once work on the North Lot Dwelling is completed, and the building is reopened, it will provide a resource like no other at Shaker Village. A gathering for a large family or a scout group could sleep up to 24 guests in the building. A retreat of a dozen adults will have ample indoor space. Outdoor parties, luncheons and reunions will gather on the picturesque grounds, using the North Lot Dwelling as a base of operations and catering kitchen.

Bunk-style beds, with a queen mattress on the bottom and a twin above, will provide flexibility for different types of guests, while maximizing occupancy for the building. Fold out sofas and the installation of laundry facilities will provide additional flexibility for extra guests or longer stays.

As the North Lot Dwelling “comes back to life,” we will keep you updated with stories and photos. We hope you’ll stop by to welcome back this familiar friend that has needed our aid for so long.

Follow Our Progress

As projects develop, you can expect to hear more about the progress on social media, through emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, or if you would like to support our efforts, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at or 859.734.1574.

A House of Dignity and Charm

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

This is the fifth article in an ongoing series outlining long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. New to the series? You can visit our previous articles here:

The Heart of Hospitality

The 1839 Trustees’ Office has been the focal point of welcoming guests to Pleasant Hill since its construction was completed by the Shakers in 1841. As a center of trade and commerce, the building was arguably more “of the world” then the other structures in the community.

New construction behind and adjacent to the 1839 Trustees’ Office would encompass new kitchens, storage, offices, HVAC systems and delivery area.

Near the end of the 19th century, the building came into private ownership, and since then it has served, almost entirely, as a house of hospitality. Millions of guests have passed beneath the wondrous twin spiral staircases on their way to dine on country fare in this building, once described in a popular postcard as A House of Dignity and Charm...

At the center of all food service for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, the 1839 Trustees’ Office is not only home to our seed-to-table restaurant, The Trustees’ Table, but also to all food preparation for catered events across the 3,000 acre property. Additionally, the building houses eight overnight guest rooms, a craft shop, and four offices for employees.

The 1839 Trustees’ Office, c. 1880s.

Shaker Village’s Long-Range Planning Committee reviewed the challenges presented by operating a commercial kitchen in the cellar of an historic building. These challenges included an inefficient layout, limited capacity and the pressures this type of activity place on the fabric of this irreplaceable landmark. We also examined outdated HVAC systems, accessibility issues and difficulties with loading and unloading inventory and catered goods to and from the cellar.

What follows is an overview of key points of consideration, and potential plans for the future of the 1839 Trustees’ Office.

Space to Grow

The Long-Range Planning Committee determined that an expansion and modernization of kitchen facilities at the Trustees’ Office is necessary to increase service capacity for both the restaurant and catered events. This expansion provides an opportunity to offer “casual fare” for guests, filling a need in current dining offerings, and to increase cocktail and appetizer sales by creating a venue to capture both unique visitation and pre/post-dining guests.

The new construction necessary to achieve these goals will also provide an opportunity to: upgrade HVAC systems for the “central cluster,” add three overnight rooms that currently serve as offices back into service for guests, use the Trustees’ cellar as a tavern or rental space, add outdoor dining to the west side of Trustees’, add a walkup service window and bar facing the Trustees’ lawn, add accessible restroom facilities on the Trustees’ lawn, and create safe and efficient access for deliveries and waste removal.

A Brief History of the 1839 Trustees’ Office

Construction on the Trustees’ Office began in 1839, and the building was completed in 1841. The overall design of the building, along with the iconic, twin spiral stairs were likely influenced by public and private buildings in Lexington and Frankfort. For decades the Trustees’ Office served as the business offices for the Shakers and was also used to house and feed guests – both visiting Shakers and those of the “world.”

In 1896, in order to pay off debts, the Trustees’ Office and 766 acres of land were sold to John Castleman of Louisville. The building changed hands several times in the 20th century, but was used consistently as a public restaurant and inn, most notably as the “Shaker Village Guest House.” The last private owner of the building was Robert Renfrew.

In 1962, the Trustees’ Office was the first building purchased by the newly formed non-profit Shakertown at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, Inc. This building was unanimously considered “the vital first purchase in the Shakertown project.”  The Shakertown Committee agreed that “possession of the inn would give the committee an asset that could be improved and turned into a moneymaker.”

Robert Renfrew receiving check for Trustees’ Office
Pictured left to right: Robert Renfrew, Bob Houlihan, Earl Wallace, Hillery Boone

Earl Wallace, then chair of the board of Trustees, claimed “the first challenge to our enthusiasm came as the option on the present Trustees’ House was about to expire. We were faced with the payment of $62,500 which we did not have. The challenge came from Barry Bingham of Louisville who said that he would give $25,000 if we would raise the balance. The seriousness of our undertaking dawned on me and five other trustees when we had to endorse Shakertown’s note at a Lexington Bank to get the balance. I recall we said at that time that Shakertown would own one property if never another!”

These 1963 floor plans show an early concept for moving kitchens out of the Trustees’ Office and into a new addition, while creating an additional food and beverage venue in the cellar of the building.

By 1963, leadership at Shaker Village were drawing up plans to expand the kitchens of the Trustees’ Office, add outdoor seating and convert the cellar to a tavern. Keep in mind that Mercer County did not allow alcohol sales at that time.

While modern plans will not be identical to those from 1963, it is worth noting the continuation of this concept.

The Trustees’ Table

The Trustees’ Table restaurant opened to the public in April 1968, under the leadership of Elizabeth Kremer. Mrs. Kremer developed a menu with a few Shaker-inspired dishes and rounded out with traditional “Southern” fare. Meals were served “family style,” with the sides for each day standardized and served in shared dishes.

The aesthetics of the restaurant were based on Shaker design, with servers in costume, menus based on the look of Shaker journals, and table settings resembling those found in upscale country homes.

Dining at the Trustees’ Table, c. 1990s.

By all accounts, the Trustees’ Table has been a popular and profitable venue for almost the entirety of its operation. While experiencing some decline in the 2000s, the expansion of onsite catering, outdoor dining and dining events, along with a resurgence in overall site visitation, has once again pressed restaurant operations to high productivity.

Shaker Village has also managed overnight guest rooms in the Trustees’ Office since 1968. Currently there are 8 overnight guest rooms in the building, though 11 rooms were developed for overnight use. The 3 rooms located on the second floor, above the kitchen, have been repurposed as offices due to the disturbance caused for guests by being above a kitchen area.

Catered events at Shaker Village take place in venues across the 3,000 acre property, with all food produced in the 1839 Trustees’ Office kitchens.

The front desk for the Inn was located in the Trustees’ Office until 2017. At that time the front desk was relocated to the Welcome Center (1815 Carpenter’s Shop) and the former front desk area was converted to additional retail space.

Future Plans

  • Construct a new kitchen with space and equipment to enable an expansion of services in the Trustees’ Table restaurant and for onsite catered events
    • Dry storage, cold storage, supply storage, alcohol storage, offices, break room, dishwashing, prep cooking, baking, grill lines, salad lines, service bar, beverage stations, first aid/safety station and loading/unloading areas to be included
    • Locations and routes related to deliveries, catering and waste removal to be considered, along with staff parking and access
    • Kitchen work spaces to be designed to allow appropriate walkways and flow for prep, service and delivery
    • Kitchen operations would be removed from 1839 structure, reducing risk of loss/damage to the historic building as well as risk to employees currently navigating narrow stairs and walkways.
  • Provide additional food and beverage venues at the Trustees’ Table, with focus on casual fare and alcohol sales
    • With cellar emptied of kitchens, space can be opened up to create an accessible “tavern” with capacity of 60-75 patrons. Alternatively, this space could be used as a location for interpretation and/or group rentals
    • A walk-up bar and grill can be included in the new construction, providing service to the Trustees’ lawn
    • Additional terrace seating can be added outside the cellar entrance on the west side of the building, making a more attractive approach to the Village center while increasing casual service capacity.
  • Add public restrooms in the cellar, along with new restrooms with outdoor access from the Trustees’ lawn, as part of the new addition, resolving a bathroom capacity issue in the center of the Village.
  • Replace HVAC system for “central cluster,” installing in new addition to Trustees’. Impacts Ministry Shop and Post Office along with Trustees’ Office.
  • Increase overnight lodging capacity by providing offices in the new addition, allowing three overnight rooms currently serving as office space in Trustees (above current kitchens) to go back into service for guests.

Design Goals

Before any design will be rendered for this important projects, a number of key design topics will be discussed by a variety of experts and stakeholders, including:

  • New construction should not impede the historic viewshed from Trustees’ Office to garden
  • One outcome is to create a more attractive and obvious approach from guest parking area to the Trustees’ Office
  • The Long-Range Planning Committee is also working with historic preservationists, architects and artists to determine our approach to the following questions: Is the new construction a showpiece, or meant to be unobtrusive? Is new construction blending with Shaker architecture, or does it have a more modern design? How will landscaping tell an historic story, while also creating the appropriate aesthetic atmosphere for guests?

Follow Our Progress

As projects develop, you can expect to hear more about the progress on social media, through emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, or if you would like to support our efforts, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at or 859.734.1574.

Landing in the Right Place

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

This is the third article in an ongoing series outlining long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

One Project at a Time

Our first article in this series provided an overview of the long-range planning process at Shaker Village, while the second article shared the list of projects we have included in the plan. We’ve been thrilled at the response we’ve received from the public so far, with so many supporters of Shaker Village reaching out to share their excitement, ask questions and offer to help in a variety of ways. As they say, “It takes a Village!” We have certainly found that to be the case here, and truly cherish the enthusiasm our community has for this unique historic site.

This aerial shows the location of Shaker Landing, along the Kentucky River, as well as the location of a future parking area near the top of River Road.

Now that everyone has been “introduced” to our Long-Range Plan, our next articles will each take a more detailed look into specific projects from the plan. We’ll begin by sharing the vision for Shaker Landing, with a bit of history and context to set the stage.

Shaker Landing from the Kentucky River, c. late 1800s.

A Place on the River

The Pleasant Hill Shakers began acquiring land for river access as early as 1813, when they purchased Fulkerson’s Ferry a few miles downriver.

By 1843 the Shakers had amassed an additional 200 acres of land on both sides of the Kentucky River. At its peak, Shaker Landing spanned from Brooklyn to the mouth of the Dix River, about a mile upstream. Along this site the Shakers built 13 structures, including a dwelling, warehouses and a stable.

Shaker Landing served as the launch point for Shaker trade deacons for almost 50 years. The river connected the Shakers to markets as far south as New Orleans, where they would sell their goods and return with precious cargo such as sugar and coffee. Shorter trade routes were more common, with Louisville and Cincinnati as the most visited destinations.

This 1864 Warehouse stood at Shaker Landing until it was washed away during the flood of 1978.

For nearly 100 years, the Shakers operated a ferry that would shuttle travelers across the Kentucky River for a small toll. Due to the construction of High Bridge and the increase of railroad travel, operation of the Shaker Ferry ceased in the late 1890s.

The Pleasant Hill Shakers sold their ferry, and Shaker Landing, in 1909. Non-Shakers continued to run the ferry as a tourist attraction under its original namesake until 1940.

The impact of flooding is one major reason why more original Shaker structures are not standing at Shaker Landing. During the historic flood of 1978, river waters reached 53 feet. Currently, the only remaining Shaker building at the Landing is the 1866 Timber Frame Stable.

Recent History

The “Dixie Belle” began operating at Shaker Landing in 1982.

In 1982, Shaker Village purchased the Dixie Belle riverboat, which had been previously operating at Fort Boonesborough. The riverboat operated from 1982 – 2021, when it was decommissioned due to age, ongoing maintenance challenges and declining use.

Hiking trails to and from Shaker Landing comprise roughly two miles of the Village’s 33-mile trail system, and provide some of the only dog-friendly trails on the property.

Plans for the Future

As with all plans for the property at Shaker Village, or for that matter, any National Historic Landmark, great pains will be taken to ensure our work is not disruptive to the natural and cultural landscape, but rather, supportive of it. Archaeological assessments will be completed where necessary, care will be taken to consider the aesthetics of the Shakers and their land in any new designs, and the safety of all guests and staff will be paramount to our completed projects.

The 1866 Timber Frame Stable

Upcoming Projects at Shaker Landing

We plan to outfit the 1866 Timber Frame Stable as an event venue, providing space for dinners, receptions, social gatherings and educational programs. This work will begin in 2023 thanks to a generous contribution from a private donor.

  • Dining seating for 90-100 guests
  • Add market lights, fans, event tables and chairs, accessible entry path, exterior lighting, exterior restrooms, exterior patio seating, kitchen prep equipment, historic images and interpretation.

We will modify and add to the current dock system on the Kentucky River. This work will provide a safer and more efficient launch for private canoes and kayaks, create space for educational programming and allow visitors a scenic location to relax and enjoy river views.

  • A new kayak and canoe launch will be added in 2023 to the downstream side of the current dock at Shaker Landing. Continuing plans will be to expand the dock system with a design to complete all of the above functions, while being more aesthetically pleasing to guests.
A new canoe and kayak launch, using segments of “E-Z Dock” seen here, will be attached to the current dock at Shaker Landing this summer.

We plan to invest in a new motorized touring boat, and explore opportunities to provide additional canoe and kayak programming on the Kentucky River.

  • Add a new, motorized touring vessel with a minimum capacity of 35 guests for interpretive programs, student activities and general river cruises.
  • Continue our ongoing partnership with Canoe Kentucky to offer guided paddling experiences, while investigating options for purchasing large, touring canoes for guided group programs.

We plan to beautify Shaker Landing and River Road by manicuring the grounds, determining locations for future activities and adding interpretive elements where needed.

  • Create interpretive signage for historic and natural features, build hardscape for paths, fire pits and dock access, and sight locations for large event tents. Begin promoting Shaker Landing for weddings, social events, youth camping trips and public boat launches.

Another important project will be to provide shuttling and guest parking options that allow safer access to Shaker Landing.

  • Rent 15-passenger vans to shuttle guests to Shaker Landing for events. School buses and private boat launches may still access the Landing directly.
  • Construct a new, semi-permeable parking area with a 60-car capacity off River Road, behind the current gated access. Install a shelter that can be used by Village staff for check-ins, and for guests shuttling to and from the landing.

Follow Our Progress

As projects develop, you can expect to hear more about the progress on social media, through emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, or if you would like to support our efforts, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at or 859.734.1574.

Preserving the Past, Planning for the Future

Creating a New Long-Range Plan for Shaker Village

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

For most visitors to Shaker Village, the typical conversation is framed in the “past tense.”
Who lived here? How were these buildings used? What did this look like in the 19th century? What did the Shakers believe?

As Kentucky’s largest National Historic Landmark, this makes perfect sense, of course. It has been over 200 years since Shaker missionaries first came to our state, and the rich and vibrant stories of Pleasant Hill’s rise, decline and restoration have attracted millions of visitors since our nonprofit opened the Village to the public in 1968.

There are a committed few, however, that have recently been framing their conversations about Shaker Village in the “future tense.” With these conversations come a very different set of questions.
How will we use this building? What will happen in this space? What infrastructure is needed to support higher visitation? What will our guests need, that we don’t already provide? How do we ensure Shaker Village will be healthy for generations to come?

After 55 years of sharing Pleasant Hill with the public, Shaker Village is creating a new Long-Range Plan.

Building on Success

So, what has prompted this new planning process, and what are the intended outcomes?

Over the last decade, Shaker Village has tackled a number of major challenges and celebrated many successes. We have made great strides in historic preservation, exhibit installation, care of the grounds, upgrades to infrastructure, growth of our endowment and increases in annual visitation, passholders and individual donors. There is still much to be done to preserve and care for the buildings and property at Pleasant Hill, but we have turned an important corner. Our successes have built momentum, and with this momentum comes the opportunity for continued growth.

Shaker Village staff meet with representatives from Bernheim Forest to discuss initiatives to increase youth engagement at the Village.

In late 2021, the Shaker Village Board of Trustees, recognizing this pivotal moment in our nonprofit’s history, created a Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) and commissioned it with developing a new Master Site Plan for the property.  The committee, chaired by Centre College President Emeritus Dr. John Roush, is comprised of a select group of architects, preservationists and business people from the Board of Trustees, joined by members of the Village’s Senior Leadership staff.

Doing Our Homework

The LRPC wasted no time getting started with their assignment. In the last 18 months this committee has conducted studies of Shaker Village’s operations and identified key challenges and opportunities.

Shaker Village Curator Becky Soules speaks with an interpreter during a site visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

Members of the LRPC have made site visits to nearly 20 other cultural sites to draw comparisons and learn from shared experiences. These visits, to organizations including Colonial Williamsburg, Conner Prairie, Bernheim Forest, Yew Dell Gardens, and the Kentucky Historical Society, have inspired the team at Shaker Village not only through learning of successes, but by also learning of mistakes made by each organization along the way. 

The LRPC also conducted a series of interviews with architects, landscape designers and master site planning specialists to prepare for the questions and inevitable hurdles Shaker Village will face when implementing its own Master Site Plan.

Staying on Mission

One bit of wisdom the LRPC has taken from their study has been: “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something.” Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is an incredibly special place, and always has been. As our team works to enhance guest experiences, grow visitation and increase accessibility, it is incredibly important that nothing we do detracts from what the Village already is.

Shaker village staff and board members visited many other cultural sites over the last 18 months, including Conner Prairie in Indiana.

This perfect balance of preservation and hospitality is where the magic of Shaker Village is found.

To guide our team’s efforts, every idea and concept is run through a series of “strategy screen questions” and ultimately viewed through the lens of our mission, to inspire generations of guests through discovery, by sharing the legacies of the Kentucky Shakers.

As our team examines needs for additional overnight rooms, kitchen space, programming areas and more, coming back to our strategy screen and mission ensures that future projects are in line with the spirit and identity of Shaker Village, and only augment the overall experience of the site.

What Comes Next?

In the coming months, the LRPC will select and partner with a firm that specializes in master site planning for large, diverse properties. Together, they will refine a list of projects and initiatives that help to preserve the property, while enhancing guest experiences. At the end of this process, the leadership of Shaker Village will have drawings, site maps and other renderings to share this vision for the future to the public.

According to Dr. Roush, “Shaker Village is going to be here, as an organization and as an historic site, for a very long time. We are taking our time to plan for the long-term. Some tasks we discuss may be accomplished relatively soon, while others are years away, but the important thing is that we have a thoughtful plan that provides a playbook for the success and longevity of this incredibly unique place.”

Follow Our Progress

As plans develop, you can expect to hear more about the progress on social media, through emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at or 859.734.1574.