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Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, shares 3,000 acres of discovery in the spirit of the Kentucky Shakers.

The Shakers were 19th-century America’s largest and best-known communal society.

Shaker Village Pleasant Hill
Historic Centre, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, Ky.
Credit: GTM/David Hoekman

In 1805 three Shaker missionaries walked from New York to Kentucky to set up a Shaker settlement. The community prospered and by 1823 there were 491 Shakers at Pleasant Hill. The village closed as an active religious society in 1910.

Establishment of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill began in the 1960s.

“The attraction offers groups inspiring tours, fresh seed-to-table dining, shopping, overnight accommodations and outdoor exploration,” said Jacob Glover, program manager.

Available are everything from a cruise in a paddle-wheel riverboat to a bonfire and hayride.

“We want to get our visitors engaged,” Glover said.

Activities take place at the Historic Centre, The Farm and The Preserve.

The main interpretive experience is new and located in the Centre Family Dwelling, a massive limestone structure built between 1824–34.

Up to 100 members lived as brothers and sisters on opposite sides of the building. The Shakers were celibate and believed in equality of race and sex.

Pleasant Hill’s five communal families ranged in size from 50 to 100 members. Each family had its own dwelling house, shops, barns, gardens and orchards.

Most of the village’s 34 historic structures are in the Historic Centre.

Shaker Village Pleasant Hill
East Family Dwelling, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, Ky. Credit: GTM/David Hoekman

“The most impressive artifacts are the buildings,” Glover said. “Restoration has never stopped. It’s ongoing.”

Marvel at the twin spiral staircases that run from the first to the third floor in The Trustees’ Office, now the village restaurant. Constructed by Shaker brother Micajah Burnett, the stairs are so iconic that they are likely some of the most photographed elements of Shaker architecture in America.

“The golden era of this village was 1835 to 1855 and that was due to trade,” Glover said. Shaker-produced brooms, coopered items, preserves, packaged seeds and other products were taken on regular trading trips to New Orleans via the Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

The Inn at Shaker Village features 72 guest rooms, suites and private cottages spread throughout 13 historic Shaker Village buildings.

For more information on Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill call 859-734-1558 or go to shakervillageky.org.