Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

South Union Shaker Museum near Bowling Green, June 6

An early start from Jason's house gave us the opportunity to take some back roads.  Our destination was Mammoth Caves National Park but plans are always in Jello.  Joel had decided he wanted to stop in Bowling Green on the way and had plugged a few potential parking spots into the GPS.  I was looking at the map and saw that there was a Shaker's Museum on our way, so we decided to make a slight detour and check it out. I have always admired the clean lines of Shaker furniture and Joel loves looking at architecture and anything wood.

I learned that the colony was very similar to modern day communes except that men and women were celibate and lived apart and children were adopted in order to increase population.  Married couples with children could join the colony but lived apart.  Men and women slept in separate quarters in separate wings of the Centre House. The religious beliefs of the Shakers set them apart from mainstream America due to their principles of celibacy, communal ownership of property and withdrawal from worldly society.

The Shakers were self sufficient, raising all of their food; making furniture; and building all of the buildings.   They believed cleanliness was important and liked things neat and tidy and uncluttered.   As the population of the Colony got older and numbers declined, the remaining 9 older members decided they could not keep up the buildings and 4000 acres and auctioned off everything in 1922.  Today, there is a small Shaker Colony of four members still in existence in  Sabbathday Lake, Maine.

This is one of the remaining Centre Building. The Colony had a population  of about 350 men, women and children.  A Centre House provided quarter for about 100 members of the Colony. The men and women were kept separate and slept in separate wings of the building.  Children lived together until they were old enough to live with the adults.
The bedrooms were set up similar to dorm rooms.  The furnishings were very simple. The bed in the picture below is a little more ornate than some, probably influenced by southerners who joined the colony.
Note the railing and pegs near the ceiling.  Each room had a rail with pegs for hanging garments adhering to the principals of order and cleanliness. This room was one of the class rooms.  The children were highly educated, learning geography and penmanship unlike other children of the era.
The cradles and babies slept in adult rooms until they were old enough to share a room with other children.
One room was set aside for weaving and all of the material was made on premises. Some of the material was sold to buyers in the south.
This is a linen press.
The doors to the dorm rooms were tall.  The windows opened above to let in air, an invention of the Shakers. The Shakers also believe good air circulation was essential for good health.
One of the long halls.  The stair case divided the floors with the men sleeping on one wing and the women on the other.
They were allowed one rocking chair and one bureau and writing desk. The room below is an example of pre civil war. There aren't any pictures or personal items.
This room is an example of post civil war.  Note the pictures and mirror and bedspreads.
Each Centre House had a meeting room.  Those benches look very uncomfortable.
In the 1900's one of the rooms was transferred into a bathroom.  The Shakers made improvements such as plumbing and electricity as the Colony evolved. They were pretty progressive.

This is an example of one of the men's sleeping rooms.
This writing desk was in the Elders house.
Example of one of the stir cases in the Elders house.  Note the colors and the hand rail.  The Hand rail is all one continuous piece.
One of the old wagons in the barn.
One building was set aside for making cheese and butter.  Women were assigned this task.
This is the broom making room.  The Shakers invented the flat broom and produced it for sale.. $1.40 for a dozen brooms.
Broom corn is used to make the brooms.
Some of the machinery used to make the brooms. In addition to manufacturing brooms the Shakers marketed garden seed, fruit preserves, hats, baskets, rugs, linen and silk to customers in the south.
Below is the meat processing room were meat is processed and smoked.  The smoke is diverted to a room upstairs where the meat is smoked.

Meat is smoked in the smoking room upstairs.  The smoke can be diverted to the outside once the meat is smoked.

The Centre House dining area.  The dinning tables are set up in a T.  The two elders set at the head of the T and the rest of the members  at the table.
Note the built in corner hutch.  Everything is very functional and simple.
This is a pie safe.  The pies and baked goods are removed from the oven and placed in the safe for cooling.  The face of the doors are tin that has been punched into an attractive design. The safe also keeps the food away from bugs and insects.
The ringer is probably a pie dough roller.  Very ingenious.
There were two bee hive type ovens in the kitchen.  With most of the oven on the outside the kitchen remained uncluttered.
The kitchen are much larger and much more functional than what I found on the plantations of the south.  This is probably due to the fact that meals were provided to over a hundred residents three times a day. Wow that three hundred full meals per day!

All and all this was a great impromptu stop.  I was a little dubious about paying $8.00 for a museum but it was well worth it.

We fixed a late lunch in the Big House and then headed to Bowling Green.  Temperatures were in the high 90's with high humidity in the 70'!. We parked at the Moose Lodge in Bowling Green and then headed out for an evening stroll in the old part of town.  The town square has a nice fountain and the buildings in the old part of town are interesting.

Everything was closed since it was Monday and after 7:00 P.M. but the old town looked like a fun place to poke around. another time.  We returned to the Moose Lodge and decided that while the Corvette Museum might be interesting we'd pass this time and head up toward Mammoth Caves in the morning.  

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