Brethren's Red Brick Shop - North Family - Mt. Lebanon, New York.  Photo by  Craig Voigt.

 

Mount Lebanon Shaker Village


For 160 years, the Shakers at Mount Lebanon led the largest and most successful utopian communal society in America. With over 6,000 acres and 100 buildings – Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was a driving force in the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and institutional activities of its day. With the industrial revolution, and naturally declining population of the celibate community, the Shaker membership dwindled, and communities consolidated and closed. The last seven Shakers left Mount Lebanon in 1947, and the remaining property of the North Family was sold into private hands. In 1965, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The iconic North Family Great Stone Barn – measuring 50’ wide, four stories high, and nearly 200’ long, was a testament to the ingenuity, faith, and perseverance of the Shakers. In 1972 the barn was totally gutted by a catastrophic fire, leaving only its four massive masonry walls standing until this day. The following year, the North Family’s First Dwelling House – a 55-room abandoned timber-framed structure -- was demolished to prevent further vandalism and threats to adjacent buildings on the site. Built-in casework and furnishings were removed from the Dwelling House and sold at auction, or rescued for display at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the 1980s a not-for-profit organization was founded to preserve the site and open it for public use, but lacking sufficient funds, the site was listed as “endangered” by the National Park Service in 1993.

In 2001 the Shaker Museum and Library was awarded a Save America’s Treasures grant to investigate the feasibility of acquiring the site, and preserving its thirty acres and ten extant Shaker buildings, for reuse as the centerpiece of the new home of the Shaker Museum and Library. SMandL retained a nationally-prominent design team led by Cooper, Robertson & Partners of New York City, and Robert Silman Associates, structural engineers, to perform a comprehensive historic structures and cultural landscape assessment, and create a Master Plan for reuse of the site. The site is now owned by the Shaker Museum and Library.

The Master Plan calls for conserving the masonry walls of the Great Stone Barn and building a new 50,000-sf museum and library within its stabilized shell and on the footprint of the three original wings.

Using data collected by laser surveying, fiber-optic boroscopic investigation, and geotechnical engineering probes, the schematic design for the Great Stone Barn will reverse the original circulation pattern of the Great Stone Barn – with visitors entering at the lowest western level, and traveling up through the building through three floors of galleries and research library areas to arrive at the top floor, with it public Gathering Room and miles-long view over the remainder of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, the Berkshires, and the Taconic Valley below. Classrooms, the Museum Store, and a seasonal cafe will provide the visitor and campus resident with opportunities for participating in a wide range of program activities and educational courses, as well as shopping, dining, and enjoying the serenity and beauty of the 30-acre historic landscape.

Funding for the Mount Lebanon Project is made possible through a combination of private donations, charitable foundations, and government support at the local, state, and national level. Work is underway to conserve and stabilize the masonry walls so that new construction can take place.

The North Family Site at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village is designated as one of only six sites in the USA on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Endangered Sites – for its significance, for its urgent need for preservation, and for the viability of the plan to meet that need.

HOURS


Open: 2013 Season: July 5th - October 14th. Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon is open for tours at the North Family historic site July through October each year. The research library in Old Chatham remains open year-round by appointment, although the museum galleries are now closed.

Visitor Center & Museum Store Hours: Friday to Monday 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Guided Tours: Friday to Monday. The historic buildings are by guided tour only. Pamphlets are available at the Granary (visitors center & museum store) for self-guided tours of the grounds during open hours.

11:30am - The North Family Tour (1 hour)

1:00pm - The Meetinghouse Tour (1 hour)

2:30pm - The North Family Tour (1 hour)

ADMISSION

 

Admission: Donations are appreciated and will help fund preservation efforts and programs at Mount Lebanon.

See our Events and Programs page for a schedule of public programs throughout the 2013 season at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

For more information about these and upcoming programs, please call 518-794-9100.

LOCATION & DIRECTIONS


Mount Lebanon Shaker Village is located approximately 1 mile on the right from the junction of routes 20 and 22 in New Lebanon, NY going east on Rt. 20 toward Pittsfield, MA.


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CONTACT INFORMATION


Mail: Mount Lebanon Shaker Village
202 Shaker Rd
New Lebanon, New York 12125
Telephone: 1-518-794-9100
Fax: 1-518-794-8621
Email: contact@shakermuseumandlibrary.org

Web Site: www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org

For information on activities and events
at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village,
please go to our Calendar of Shaker Events