18 August 2009


I came upon an e-nouncement for the University of Massachusettes today at work. It said, "UMass Amherst and Hancock Shaker Village announce the creation of a New Graduate Degree in Historic Preservation and Design" and I was immediately taken. Having never heard of Hancock in the past, I took it upon myself to do a little research and made the unanimous decision to (very soon) pay a visit to this cultural anomolie in western Mass. Here's what I discovered:

The Shaker Central Ministry closed the Hancock community in 1960 and sold the buildings and surrounding acreage to a group of Shaker enthusiasts, collectors and scholars. First open to the public on July 1, 1961, the village co-operative has restored the grounds & buildings and assembled & cared for their inherited premier Shaker collection. Hancock Shaker Village was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968 and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

[photos courtesy the internet]
More specifically, I noticed the unusual circular stone building - a barn built in 1826. Inside the barn there are four rings. The smallest, inner-most room provides ventilation - necessary to help draw the moisture out of the hay to prevent its overheating. The ring second to center is where the hay is stored; tossed in from an upper balcony. The next (third) ring is reserved for the Shaker brothers to be able to distribute the hay in the second ring to the cows standing in the outermost, fourth ring. The barn is constructed to hold up to 70 cows at a time - once in the morning and once in the evening to eat complacently while the Shaker brothers milk them.

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