South Union Shaker Village and Museum
The South Union Shaker Village, located just outside Auburn, Kentucky, was occupied by members of the communal religious group from 1807-1922. The village has since been restored and the Shaker Museum is now contained within the 42 room Centre House which was built in 1824 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The village and museum are now dedicated to preserving the original buildings and artifacts as well as educating the general public about Shaker values and their way of life.
Backstory and Context
While in South Union, the shakers constructed over 200 buildings and worked 6,000 acres, growing crops and raising livestock. They used the food to feed themselves and sold the excess to the outside communities. They also manufactured high-quality, hand-crafted goods, such as brooms, baskets, and clothing. However, the Shaker were best known for building simple, elegant and sturdy furniture, which they also sold to raise funds. The museum is now home to one of the largest collections of Shaker furniture within the United States.
The village and museum now displays that furniture as well as Shaker quilts, butter churns, and other items to reveal their day-to-day life. It is also home to numerous pages of Shaker journals which many wrote on a daily basis. These original manuscripts reveal a great deal about the Shakers and their community, especially as the Civil War raged around them as both Union and Confederate soldiers passed through their village in search of food and rest.
The village sponsors many special events to include broom making demonstrations, seminars, lectures, music days, a Shaker breakfast, and Christmas at Shakertown. They also rent the village out for weddings and other special occasions. Finally, there is also the 1869 Shaker Tavern and Inn that the Shakers built but leased to outside interests. It now serves as a bed and Breakfast.