Save our Silos – Help the Dairy Ell

/Save our Silos – Help the Dairy Ell

Save our Silos – Help the Dairy Ell

April 13, 2017 – June 1, 2017 all-day


The two wooden silos at Hancock Shaker Village are an integral part of the rural landscape.  Located next to the Round Stone Barn, they were erected in 1909 to store feed corn for livestock.  Like other wooden silos, these ‘silent sentinels’ are rustic symbols of farming in America, but they are vanishing.  No longer built, many wooden silos have succumbed to disrepair or suburban sprawl.

The silos at Hancock Shaker Village were severely damaged by a winter storm.  The chute fell off one and crashed onto the roof of the 1939 dairy ell. They will not make it through another winter, and are in danger of falling.  We need your help to save them.

Our goal is to raise $90,000 by June 1 to restore the two silos to their natural state, and repair the adjoining dairy ell. Both structures are part of the landscape surrounding the Round Stone Barn; indeed, silos have become so closely associated with barns as to have lost their separate identities.

On the National Historic Register, our Round Stone Barn is an intriguing ‘banked barn,’ which is built into a bank, and could be accessed by carriage on three levels. The silos and dairy ell (where the baby animals live), along with the attached Round Stone Barn, provide invaluable hands-on methods in teaching visitors and students about farming, sustainability, animal husbandry, ingenuity, and innovation. The Shakers erected the silos, dairy ell and Round Stone Barn to work the land, and our goal is to preserve the setting, which according to the National Park Service is one of the primary factors contributing to the historic character of a barn.

Funds will be used to:

  • Restore the silos to a safe, proper condition (this also will allow HSV to activate them and incorporate the silos into the education program – children could go inside the silos for the first time ever!).
  • Repair the dairy ell roof (where our beloved babies are bred)
  • Repair doors, gates, windows, and white wash the Dairy Ell
  • Restore the Ell’s manure conveyor (an ingenious invention to lighten the load on farmers– both past and present!)

Baby Animals runs April 15 – May 7. In the last decade, more than 90,000 children have visited, learning about the Shaker way of life, heritage breeds, and sustainability. High season at HSV begins July 1. We have a window from mid-May to the end of June (and a contractor lined up) to do repairs.
The Shakers used the silos to store corn to feed livestock. The chute directed the silage to the grain room. While in 1882 there were fewer than 100 wooden silos in America, by 1903 there were as many as 500,000 silos, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After World War II, a new fiberglass silo rendered wooden silos obsolete. Few remain today.

After a rough winter wind storm, the North facing silo suffered major damage when the chute fell from the 50-foot tower onto the Round Stone Barn’s wooden Dairy Ell, which was built to house thirty Holstein cows. The roof suffered damage. Due to the proximity to our Dairy Ell, and its own significant history to the Hancock Shaker Village landscape, it is efficient to repair the Dairy Ell, home to heritage breeds of sheep, cows, chickens, goats, and pigs, and the beloved ritual of baby animals every spring. Reached through a door in the 1826 barn, the Dairy Ell also teaches visitors about historic invention, including the conveyor system. Efficiency and sustainability were key Shaker principles, and this conveyor system (which hasn’t been used since the 1930s) allowed the Shakers to remove manure efficiently from the Ell. Imagine shoveling a load onto a belt that took it out of the barn to a manure pile or spreader; it saved time and manpower. Restoring the conveyor, along with other Dairy Ell repairs, means highlighting the Shaker way of life, not to mention assisting the maintenance crew in making HSV run more efficiently, and providing a lesson in sustainability and farming to 50,000+ visitors annually.

We seek $45,000 in private donations by June 1 to save the silos and revive the Dairy Ell. (In addition, we’re running an Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign to raise $45,000 via social media by June 1.)  We love our historic structures, and want to see them stand for generations to come, to teach, to inform, to inspire, and simply to enjoy. We have the passion and skills to do this immediate restoration, but we need your help. Would you consider a gift today?

Click here to donate now.



By | 2017-04-18T14:18:29+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Comments Off on Save our Silos – Help the Dairy Ell

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