Shaker Village Appeal

Oldest Structure Needs a New Roof

By: - Aug 14, 2021

Dear Friends,

 Our Laundry & Machine Shop desperately needs a new roof. 

 One of the most prominent buildings in the Village, it’s also the oldest, the stone hearth dating back to the 1780s. The wood shake shingles, last replaced in the 1990s, started deteriorating on the vast structure several years ago. As John F. Kennedy said, “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” and we know that all too well as daylight appears through the holes, while the monsoon-like rains this summer intensify the need for repair.

What's involved? 24,320 cedar shakes. 48,640 nails. 4,500 square feet of roof.

The roof is the #1 priority among our restoration projects. The first and last building visitors experience at the Village, the Laundry and Machine Shop is critical: a prime example of the Hancock Shakers’ elaborate water power system. Imagine harnessing waterpower from a mountain: first the Shakers diverted a brook and hand-built a reservoir, then (in 1817) they laid an underground aqueduct that transported water to the building, which turned an overshot wheel (25-feet in diameter) that powered the machinery, providing water for the farm, gardens, and livestock. The sisters did the community laundry while the brethren worked in the machine/woodworking shops, one of the rare places where they worked under the same roof (though never at the same time). Equality, efficiency, and community were of prime importance to the Hancock Shakers. In 1858, the Shakers replaced the waterwheel with a water turbine, improving the efficiency and productivity. The turbine is still a popular demonstration for fascinated visitors. 

We have a tradition at our summer benefit to pass the hat for a special project that helps repair or rebuild an imperiled structure in our Village. With 20 historic buildings, such needs are constant and significant. There is no greater responsibility than putting a good roof over your family’s head. As stewards of the Shaker’s physical legacy here at Hancock, it is our obligation to do so for them. 

Please support this vital cause. Gifts of all sizes, from a shingle to the rooftop, or somewhere in between, are greatly appreciated:


  • Shingle - $100
  • Cedar Shake - $500
  • Perfect Pitch - $1,000
  • Chimney Sweep - $5,000
  • Rainmaker - $10,000
  • Rooftop - $25,000

The Shakers, thousands strong in the early 1800s, today number a handful, but their legacy of creativity, resourcefulness, progressive thought, hard work, and community lives on. Your gift helps celebrate the land, architecture, history, culture, and principles of the Shakers and this remarkable historic Village. Please give here. Let's raise the roof!


With gratitude,



Jennifer Trainer Thompson