Known for its unique round stone barn, this living history museum re-creates one ofthe last innovative farming communities founded by members of the Shaker faith — people who believed in equality, a spare beauty of design and closeness to God.
They lived in celibate settlements that persisted for more than 150 years — one is still active at Sabbathday Lake in Maine — where they ran schools, developed hardy breeds of animals, designed new tools and mechanisms, and became known for the quality of their seeds, woodwork, oval boxes and other crafts.
At Hancock, visitors can tour the buildings, farm and gardens, meet baby animals in the spring and savor the harvest by candlelight in the fall. They can reflect on the Shaker way of life in music, contemporary art. The village hosts a concert series year-round, locally sourced dinners, demonstrations and workshops. Gardens on the grounds provide a CSA (community sponsered agriculture) farm share and supply ingredients for the café.
Founded in 1791, this was the third of 19 major Shaker villages established between 1783 and 1836 in New York, New England, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee and later Joseph Meacham and Lucy Wright.
The Shakers closed the village in 1960 and sold the land to a local group who now operate the property as a museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1968.