Once a thriving utopian community, the Hancock Shaker Village in the Berkshires, MA, remains a vibrant living history museum. The Shakers, known for their religious practice of jubilant singing and dancing, found a home in the peaceful hills and valleys of the Berkshires beginning in 1783. Though no Shakers currently live at the Hancock Shaker Village, it remains a tribute to their many contributions to American culture.
Set among the 750-acre village, 20 authentic Shaker buildings tell the story of a peaceful and hardworking community dedicated to the simpler things in life. Spending the day at Hancock Shaker Village, the oldest working farm in the Berkshires, provides insight into the lifestyle and traditions of a now nearly extinct society.
Visiting the Hancock Shaker Village makes for a great daytrip from our historic country inn in the Berkshires. Read on to see all the ways to enjoy this unique living history museum.
Furniture, textiles, art, and tools feature prominently among the collections on display at the village. Anyone interested in history or antiquities will appreciate the impressive assortment of household items, farm tools, and art on exhibit.
The Farm and Gardens
Farming served not only as a means of sustenance, but also experimentation. Years of innovation and advancing technology bred a model of efficiency when it came to the use of farmlands. In fact, today the Village boasts an expansive herb garden and heirloom vegetable garden. And, in the fields, heritage livestock roam freely.
Among the historically significant buildings on campus, a revolving series of special exhibits enhance the visitor experience. The work of artists such as Maya Lin, architect of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. and Don Gummer, noted sculptor, once graced the walls of Hancock Village.
A stroll along the 1-mile Farm and Forest Trail leads through woodlands and pasture. Panels positioned along the trail highlight the historic and environmental significance of the Village. A recent spur, known as the south Family Trail, leads to the foundations of 4 buildings once populated by a splinter group of Shakers.
The clean lines of Shaker craftsmanship are on prominent display in the gift shop. Oval boxes made of cherry and maple, cross stitch kits, beeswax soap and candles vie for your attention as you sort through the items on sale. It’s hard to leave the Village without a keepsake to add to your home or office.
Located north of the Devonfield Inn in Pittsfield, the Hancock Shaker Village draws visitors from around the world. A leisurely drive of less than 30 minutes brings you right to the entrance. Open daily, April through December from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, you could easily spend several hours exploring the grounds and buildings. Sign up for one of their 2-hour workshops for a one-on-one learning experience. Workshops are offered in weaving, spinning, and chair seat weaving for a fee of $90.00.