Shaker Historical Society and Museum,  Shaker Heights, Ohio

The Shaker Historical Society Museum and Library

Featuring a Collection of Artifacts From the North Union Shaker Colony

The Shakers The Shaker sect was founded in England by Mother Ann Lee. In 1774 Mother Ann and eight followers came to America seeking religious freedom and established their first permanent settlement near Albany, New York. During the 19th century Shaker membership grew to about 6000 converts living in 19 settlements throughout New England and the Midwest.

The Shaker movement in America was characterized by communal living, celibacy, public confession of sins, pacifism, belief in equality of all people, and daily living designed to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The Shakers were known for their inventiveness, their outstanding craftsmanship, their industriousness, and their spirituality, as epitomized by their motto: "Put your hands to work and your hearts to God." Today, Shaker life and crafts are preserved in several museums at former Shaker sites, including the North Union settlement.

The North Union Shakers The North Union colony, also known as "The Valley of God's Pleasure," was one of the last to be formed. It was established in 1822 by Ralph Russell, Warrensville settler and land owner, and included many members of his family and more than 80 of his neighbors.
By 1850, at the peak of their membership, about 300 Shakers maintained their buildings and mills, operated their schools, and produced a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. They packaged seeds and herbs. They made woolen goods, flat brooms, boxes, baskets, and furniture for their own use and for sale in the surrounding area. Not only did they sustain themselves, but they also shared their bounty with the needy of Cleveland. By 1889, their numbers had dwindled, the colony of North Union was closed, and the remaining Shakers were relocated to colonies in southern Ohio.

The Van Sweringen Brothers and Shaker Heights The property formerly owned by the Shakers was bought in 1905 by two entrepreneurs, M.J. and O.P. Van Sweringen. They developed Shaker Village, later called Shaker Heights, as one of the first "Garden City" suburbs in this country. The "Vans" built beautiful homes, planted trees, provided land for schools and churches, added to the lakes built by the Shakers, and developed the Rapid Transit System to provide convenient commuting to downtown Cleveland. Since that time, the City of Shaker Heights has thrived and upheld standards of excellence reminiscent of the early Shaker community.

The Shaker Historical Society The Shaker Historical Society was organized in 1947 to preserve and promote an appreciation of the heritage of the early Shaker community, of the early settlers of Warrensville Township, and the history of Shaker Heights. Towards these goals the Society: Maintains the Shaker Historical Museum. Provides a permanent exhibit of Shaker furniture and artifacts, with special focus on the contributions and legacy of the North Union Shakers. Conducts Museum tours for individuals, civic, and educational groups. Cooperates with local school systems in the development of curricula emphasizing early Shaker history. Presents a variety of programs related to the history of Cleveland and the Western Reserve.

The Shaker Historical Museum The Shaker Historical Museum was established in 1956 to house the Shaker Historical Society's collection of fine Shaker furniture and artifacts. The Museum moved to its present location after Frank A. Myers, a trustee, donated his family's Tudor mansion for use by the Society. It occupies what was once the site of the largest of three North Union Shaker dwellings, their apple orchard and vegetable gardens. The Shaker legacy of perfection, simplicity, utility, and durability are well reflected in the Museum's substantial collection of Shaker artifacts from North Union and other Shaker settlements.

The Elizabeth B. Nord Library Located on the second floor of the Museum, the library contains an extensive collection of books and archival materials about the Shakers, early Warrensville history, and the development of Shaker Heights. The library is open to members and is available to researchers by appointment.

The Spirit Tree Museum Shop A member of The Museum Store Association, the Museum Shop is open during Museum hours and offers unique educational books, cards, souvenirs, and fine Shaker miniatures and reproductions.


Open: Tuesday through Friday 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Open: Sunday 2:00 - 5:00 PM

Closed Holidays


General Admission fee to Museum and Nord Library:

Adults: $5.00
Children (6 - 12 yrs.): $3.00
Children (under 5 yrs.): Free
Members: Free


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Shaker Historical Society
16740 South Park Boulevard
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120
Telephone: 800-860-6078 or 216-921-1201

Web Site:

For information on activities and events
at The Shaker Heritage Society Museum and Library,
please go to our Calendar of Shaker Events.