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 [email protected] 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:

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 [email protected] or 859.734.1574.