The First Shaker Village in the United States

WatervleitAtlas Obscura is featuring some of the early American architecture of Watervliet, New York, the first Shaker village in the United States.  Here is a taste of the accompanying piece:

The millenarian Christian sect, fleeing persecution in England and isolating themselves from wider society in colonial America, established their village near what is now Albany, New York in 1776. Many of the buildings in the town, which stands just southwest of the Albany Airport, have been demolished, but the site still includes nine of the town’s original buildings built between the 1820s and 1920s, as well as the main Meeting House built in 1848 (which replaced the original built in 1791).

In addition to the large worship space, the Meeting House also includes a museum with many examples of Shaker products, village artifacts, and interpretive displays. Many of these artifacts have simple, uniquely Shaker designs. The sect not only farmed to meet their own needs but also created manufacturing industries, inventing or improving many products to sell very profitably to the public.

Read the entire piece here.

2 thoughts on “The First Shaker Village in the United States

  1. I learned an important lesson about history from the Shakers, at least indirectly. My wife and I enjoyed visiting the Shaker Village museum in Canterbury, NH (website: and we usually took the tour. (We’re big fans of Shaker crafts and furniture styles.) But for all the tours we took, and all of which were very informative, the one that really impressed us was one given by a guide who presented the entire Shaker community from an inside-out, emic perspective, showing us how the world looked through Shaker eyes. The other guides did a great job and were very knowledgeable, but they presented the Shakers as a crazy commune society that abstained from sex — in other words, from our modern, etic perspective. I wouldn’t have made it as a Shaker, for a variety of reasons, but I am much more sympathetic to them and their worldview, and the world they tried to create. I learned a lot more from that one guide and not just about Shakers but about humans in general, though again, from a technical standpoint, the other guides were brimming with facts and information. I’ve tried to take that guide’s approach to heart as I approach other peoples in history.


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