Pleasant Hill Shaker Village is the largest restored Shaker community in the United States - and it's right here in Kentucky's Bluegrass region!
The Shaker religion - officially the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing - was founded in 18th century England as a branch of the Quaker community. They came to be called "Shaking Quakers" due to the physical expression of their religious ecstasy during worship and the name "Shakers" eventually stuck. Having mostly faded away as a society, due in part to their belief in celibacy, Shakers are known primarily in the US for their simple living aesthetic, particularly as it is expressed in their architecture and furniture.
Though Shakers were established early on in the US, with large, thriving communities along the east coast in the late 1700's, Kentucky's Pleasant Hill Shaker Village didn't appear until 1805. At its peak in the 1850's, Pleasant Hill Shaker Village was one of the largest Shaker communities in the US, with approximately 600 residents and 250 buildings on almost 2800 acres.
Pleasant Hill Shaker Village is unlike many other Shaker communities in the US because its architecture was strongly influenced by one individual: Micajah Burnett, who helped to lay out the community, starting in 1815 at the age of 23. His style was a mix of that prescribed by the Shaker ministry in Mount Lebanon and the popular Federal style. Burnett's approach focused on creating buildings with great open spaces and the effect was both breathtaking and efficient.
The Civil War took a heavy toll on Kentucky Shakers and their membership began to decline - by 1875 there were fewer than 250 Shakers in residence at Pleasant Hill and, by 1910, the community was dissolved. It would be another fifty years before a growing interest in the long-since repurposed or neglected Pleasant Hill Shaker Village would result in its preservation.
Pleasant Hill Shaker Village contains 34 of the original 250 Shaker buildings. Visit and see more than a dozen of these beautifully restored buildings along with craft demonstrations, history exhibitions, hands-on programs, livestock, organic gardens, 40 miles of hiking trails, and even cruises aboard the Dixie Belle paddle wheeler on the Kentucky River!