Shaker students and their teacher, circa 1880

Though the early Shakers rejected formal schooling, by the early nineteenth century the northeastern Shaker communities had organized schools. The Hancock Shaker school district was formally established on March 2nd, 1820. It served as a school for children in the Shaker settlement and later as a public school. Shaker schools were highly regarded for quality and exacting standards. A report in the Pittsfield Sun in 1822 stated:

“We hazard nothing in the assertion, that there is not in the county, nor perhaps in the State, a school, where children, from the age of four to nine, would compare with those of the  Shakers’, in readiness of reading prose, or blank verse, or in accuracy of punctuation, emphasis and spelling.”

By 1934 the original school house had been sold, removed from its site, and converted to a private home. It still stands on Route 41, just east of the museum campus.The current schoolhouse is a 1976 replica based on measured drawings of the original extant structure.  The exhibits in this building are hands-on and demonstrate many of the educational practices of the last 150 years.