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North Family Mount Lebanon Shaker Village

Communities

North Family Mount Lebanon Shaker Village
New Lebanon, New York

The Shaker Mount Lebanon North Family landscape is a historic vernacular landscape associated with the first organized Shaker community in the United States. It served as the center for Shaker communities in New England, including Watervliet and Hancock, and has a moderate degree of integrity today. The North Family Cultural Landscape Report documents the bustling, productive character and details late 19th century landscape, comparing that to the 1939 landscape in decline and the 2003 remnant landscape. Recommendations for landscape rehabilitation and interpretation address partial recapture of landscape character.

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or Shakers, used work as worship employing an industrious nature and a spiritual intensity. The orderly, functional development and maintenance of the landscape stemmed from domestic, agricultural and work activities. Heritage Landscapes identified the five principal landscape areas of work, water, crops, woodlot and domestic use around the dwellings and workshops of the North Family. The domestic landscape consisted of stone pathways, picket and rail fences, lawn-covered terraces with flowering shrubs and perennials, laundry drying yard, kitchen garden, small orchard  and an apiary. The work landscape served as the link between the domestic and agricultural landscapes and consisted of agricultural and workshop structures arranged around outdoor work yards. The broad agricultural landscape extended to fields and orchards. The woodlots provided materials for dwellings, furniture and industry, in particular the North Family chair factory. Forming a network through and serving all of these productive areas of the landscapes was the broad system of water that was captured, channeled and used for irrigating gardens and fields, washing laundry, and turning gears for industry.

The treatment approach for the cultural landscape proposed restoration of the full range of features and the unique character of the domestic and near cropland, work and water landscape units to its late 19th century condition, and rehabilitation in the vicinity of the Stone Barn, Wagon Shed and new visitor entry. Targeting the late 19th century focuses on a time when all the detailed elements of the landscape were in place and its vibrancy is apparent. The partial restoration and rehabilitation of the landscape, the preservation and reuse of historic buildings and the curation and display of artifacts will reweave and reveal all elements of the Shaker community craft, art, architecture, landscape, and commerce for this significant North Family property.

Client:
Shaker Museum & Library, Mount Lebanon Project

Project:
Cultural Landscape Report, 2003, part of a seven volume Shaker Mount Lebanon, North Family, Planning Project

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners, team leader Cooper Robertson & Partners, Architects, with Page Ayres Cowley Architects, Hartgen Archeological Assoc., Robert Silman Assoc. Structural Engineers