Thursday Doors

The Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire, is one of the few Shaker communities still open to visitors. The Shakers came to America from England in late 1774 and were part of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.

Today, there are 25 original buildings, four reconstructed, and 694 acres of rolling pastures and gardens available to walk and learn. In 1969, the Shaker Village was established as a non-profit museum, and in 1993 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

Tours, special events, exhibits, craft demonstrations, and the museum store shopping are a few of the ways you can learn more about the Shakers and enjoy the wonderful views. During the summer season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, there is also a Café at the Horse Barn for lunch, dessert, and snacks.

Several sites, both authentic and modern, are available for rent to hold meetings, weddings, or private parties. This is how I came to be there last weekend because the NH Master Gardeners held a fall meeting there including a tour and a catered luncheon.

Doors? There were so many doors, my head was spinning. Almost every building had two doors because the sisters and brothers each had their own entrance. And for bonus shots – I saw one second floor door with no stairs, and an outhouse with two doors.

In 1850, there was a population of 300 in Canterbury. The only remaining active community now is in Sabbathday, Maine, with two residents, one brother and one sister.

Sabbathday Shaker Village covers 1800 acres, 17 historic structures and hosts special events such as the Maine Festival of American Music, nature hikes, Maine Farm Day, Apple Saturdays, Shaker Christmas Fair, and many Shaker inspired craft workshops throughout the year conducted by local Maine artists.

Shaker Trivia:

  • They were first referred to as Quaking Shakers because they trembled during worship services
  • They have believed in equality for men and women since the 1700’s
  • They preferred rural communal living
  • Favored simplicity in dress and speech
  • Their largest population of 300 in Canterbury was in 1850
  • Shakers were celibate and did not believe in procreation so they adopted children
  • They were pacifists
  • Canterbury Shakers patented a washing machine in 1876

Linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, October 25, 2018

About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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58 Responses to Thursday Doors

  1. Dan Antion says:

    These are great doors, Judy. It must have been fun to wander around. Their simplistic ways led to some great styles of furniture and architecture. The simple, clean lines of these buildings highlights the craftsmanship and a focus on practical vs. decoration.

    There was a large community in nearby Somers, CT, but I don’t know what is left that one can visit.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oddment says:

    Also (I think) Aaron Copland borrowed from them when he wrote “Appalachian Spring.” I know only a little about them, but what little I know is fascinating. As I recall, they had pegs on the walls and hung their chairs on those pegs during the day so it would be easier to clean and so they wouldn’t be distracted from chores with a temptation to sit. I’d never make it as a Shaker! I’d also be very dubious about a double-doored outhouse, especially if it were a one-seater. Thanks so much for this visit to their story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Murphy's Law says:

    These buildings are fantastic. Great doors. I bet you would never have found so much as a smudge on one of those many windows!! 😄

    The two doors on the outhouse is intriguing. I’m wondering if it was divided inside for ‘his’ and ‘hers’! 🙄

    Thanks for sharing their history. Really interesting. I saw a photo once of a Quaker home with chairs hanging on wall pegs, so Oddment’s explanation may be absolutely correct. Fascinating.

    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there was a wall between the outhouse doors. The tour guide explained the use of two doors with the sisters going in one and the brothers going in another so I wondered if it was the same thing with the outhouse. I found the use of two doors fascinating right along with the fact that they felt women and men were equal as far back at the 1700’s.


      • Leah says:

        Male-female equality, so far in history. That’s interesting, indeed. I wonder how that really played out in day-to-day life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There were a couple of items discussed including that a woman was in charge when they first came to America, they worshipped God both as a male and a female, and there were always one sister and one brother in charge. Very interesting to read about it.


      • Leah says:

        How did we, over time, divorce ourselves from this common sense approach to gender. Other cultures have held women in high esteem. Somehow, we’ve almost exclusively turned our backs on that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Joyce says:

    Fascinating! Again, the interesting things I’ve learned from you about places both here and abroad…! “Oddment” reminded me of the chairs on pegs. (But I never knew the reason for hanging them up!) Years ago, I received a catalog from Shaker Village’s gift shop. I don’t think I ever bought anything, but admired the clean simple lines and basic utility of their pieces.
    New Hampshire seems to have everything packed into that little sliver of a state! We’ve seen so much of it here, too – out-of-this-world food and beverage, handsome colonial buildings, covered bridges, botanical amazement, Dover police horses, mountains, historical sights……and of course, each and every Thursday – a graceful door to admire, most often from right in your own backyard! This post certainly has something for everyone! Lots to chose from, indeed! If you ever embark on “Wednesday Windows” you could rightfully revisit these pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve never toured this area, so your pictures are quite welcome. So much history and culture rolled into one place.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. quilt32 says:

    This post was very interesting to me. We have a Shakertown that closed in 1910 and was opened as a tourist attraction in the 1960s – located in Pleasant Hill, KY (near Lexington). It used to be an annual trip for us but it’s been quite a few years since I’ve been back. Very similar buildings and such an interesting history.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rowena says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing a few insights into Shaker culture and architecture. I love the his and hers entrances and agree with everyone else about the two doors on the outhouse, which seems rather fraught. As an Australian, this really was such a lovely, novel experience. Many thanks.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Judy: Thanks for these photos and facts. I did not know most of this about the Shakers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a neat place to have toured. The doors are neat, and I liked the trivia.

    I thought they were extinct in this country. Thanks for setting me straight on that score.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Norm 2.0 says:

    Wonderful shots Judy. This must have been a fun visit. I’m wondering if they had any workshops you could visit? I find myself fascinated with the tools and techniques they used for building things and making furniture.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Joanne Sisco says:

    Celibacy? No procreation? Small wonder they aren’t a “world power” religion 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. reocochran says:

    I have been to the Shaker Village in Kentucky and the furniture and pretty wooden details they created by hand in the woodwork and furniture fascinated me. I was saddened by their exclusivity since Faith to me means reaching outward. I did feel their history was interesting. Your photos were beautiful, Judy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was wondering why there were so few Shakers left and then I read the part about celibacy. That’s kind of defeating the purpose isn’t it? You really found an abundance of doors this week, Judy. My favourite is the one in the yellow building with the gable roof over it. It looks very welcoming.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. germac4 says:

    Very interesting! I have never heard of this religious group. They seem to have invented quite a few useful tools for society and it is a so good that places like this can be kept for future generations to visit..👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Equality is great most place, but not in the outhouse (at least at the same time!) 🙂 Looks like a great place to visit and thanks for giving me a glimpse of it. I just wondered what sort of snacks there were at the Horse Barn: haystacks, pellets, grain? 🙂



  16. You must have been in door heaven. A little sad when a group ceases to be. Their time has passed, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. joey says:

    You had me at Shaker and seized me with doors, but then you said celibate and lost me. LOL Good mercy. I had no idea. None. And lady, I know a lot about a lot of religions — this escaped me completely!
    Love the door to nowhere upstairs. Glad they preserved this for our education. It’s a lovely place.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Annie says:

    Wonderful photos and lots of doors for you. I was amazed when I toured just how advanced their infirmary and surgery was for that period…and the kitchen equipment! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. How interesting! I guess it was nice that they adopted children (hopefully they brought in kids who were in great need of a loving home) but a religion based on celibacy? Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. There are a LOT of doors there. An amazing number of doors.


  21. pbmgarden says:

    Doors and more. Interesting post Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I learned something today. Thanks for this awesome blog and the facts at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. slfinnell says:

    Did you happen to see any Quaker quilting? I know our Mennonite ladies are avid seamstresses by the clothing they wear. And the Amish are world reknown quilters. Just curious. Would love to tour that site!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Eliza Waters says:

    I’ve always found Shakers an interesting sect. I love the simple lines of their furniture and buildings. I wonder what the second floor door was for? Punishment? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  25. KerryCan says:

    Oh, I’ve been to the Shaker village in NH! It’s so lovely and peaceful and, yes, full of doors!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great doors and interesting post! Love the door with no stairs. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Karen says:

    Loved your post Judy, my husband and I found the Shaker Village to be very interesting on our visit when we were living in Danville. At that time The Creamery was a very good restaurant that you had to make reservations for. I understand that they have since built the larger cafe.

    Liked by 1 person

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