On Wednesday morning the entire staff of the magazine crowded around a handmade door in an early 19th-century structure as our guide fiddled with a padlock on the door. A couple clicks later the door swung open and it sounded like everyone breathed in simultaneously.
The small room behind the door was filled with original Shaker pieces, most of which we’d never seen. An elegantly proportioned chest of drawers with frame-and-panel sides. A small side table. A blanket chest. A dozen chairs.
These were some of the treasures we discovered on a visit to the White Water Shaker Village, a mostly unrestored village about 30 minutes from our office. Tucked into a rural area of Hamilton County, the White Water Village is virtually unknown, both to woodworkers and local residents. But it is made up of 20 intact original buildings, including the trustee’s office, a dwelling, the meeting house, three shops and many barns and stables.
The White Water Shakers were active from 1824 to 1916 in a variety of trades, from making brooms, silk, seeds, molasses and honey.
Next week look for a web story about our visit with lots of photos and details of this amazing and almost-unheard-of work-in-progress. Meanwhile, click here to see more photos from our visit.
– Christopher Schwarz
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