Brethren’s Shop

Brethren’s Shop 2017-01-18T16:48:24+00:00

This building was one of many structures at Hancock Shaker Village that served as a workshop for the Brethren. It was built circa 1813. Hancock brothers made brooms, hats, wool cards, shoes, wooden measures, tin ware, and packaged garden seeds and medicines – both for sale and home use. During restoration performed in the 1960s, stone carving tools and stone chips were found in the basement, indicating that gravestones were lettered in this building.

Brother Ricardo Belden had his living quarters and clock repair shop in the building from the 1930s through the 1950s. Photo: Library of Congress, Kravitt.

The Shakers had a firm belief in the value of work. A contemporary account of the Shakers states:

“Every man among the brethren has a trade, some of them have two, even three or four trades… Everyone must take his part in family business; it may be farming, building, gardening, smith work, painting, everyone must follow his occupation, however high his calling or rank in the church…”

 

The journal of Hancock Elder Grove Wright states that in September of 1845 this shop was painted yellow. In 2007 paint analysis of the Brethren’s Shop confirmed a yellow layer that dated to the 1840s. A modern color match restored the building (as well as the Sister’s Dairy and Weave Shop across from it) to its mid-19th century appearance. Restoration of the foundation, wood frame, and pent roof was also carried out in 2007 using traditional methods and materials.

When you visit the Brethren’s Shop today, you’ll find examples of several Shaker industries, including oval box making, a chair shop, and broom shop. Interpreters demonstrate traditional crafts in this spot throughout the season, and you can put your own hands to work at oval box making and other woodworking through our annual series of Workshops.

 

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