Shaker Village Update

South Family Trail Opens July 17

By: - Jun 25, 2021

The forest south of our historic Village holds many secrets, not the least of which is a significant piece of nearly forgotten history - history that was literally right at our feet, but hidden within the lush wilderness.

In 1818 the Hancock Shakers established the South Family to handle the overflow of new members. Also known as the "Young Believers’ Order," South Family members lived before committing fully to the Church and community.  

They closed the South Family in 1849. Now, more than 170 years later, we've re-discovered this part of the Village and forged a new trail leading to the archaeological remains of four Shaker building foundations of the South Family. Interpretive signage will tell the history of the site, where from 1818-1849 “new believers” lived when they became Shakers.

Continuing research involving the indigenous people who lived on this land before the Shakers will be shared through interpretive signs later this summer.

Visitors will be able to walk this southern trail for a historically immersed exploration of Berkshire Shaker traditions, history, and natural beauty. 

Anchored by two barns, the unearthed South Family foundations serve as reminders that the Hancock Shakers were primarily farmers. 

In celebration of the opening of the South Family Trail on Saturday July 17, there will be member reception and interpretive walk starting at 10AM. Not yet a member? Join HERE.

At 1PM Shaker scholar Stephen Paterwik will give a public talk in the tent about the South Family of Shakers and their significance. As Paterwic notes: “once again, any “thread” of Shaker information may be “pulled” to unravel a lot more that has been long forgotten. This is crucial since how would we ever know otherwise given the lack of manuscripts connected with Hancock?”

His talk is free with admission.