SOUTH UNION, Ky. (9/14/13) – The Shakers were America’s largest and well known 19th century communal society. The movement began shortly after the American Revolution and by the 1840s nearly 3,500 shakers lived in communities from Maine to Kentucky.
The Shakers chose a more peaceful and simple way of life. They were celibate and believed in equality of sex, race and freedom of prejudice.
In 1807, a group of Shakers made their way to Kentucky and established a village in South Union. South Union is one of the 24 villages that was established by the Shakers.
During the Civil War, the Shakers of South Union Village were able to witness both armies as they marched through their village. Their horses and wagons were stolen and were demanded by the soldiers for meals and day and night services. Even though the rage at the Shakers doors, their pacifism preserved. It has been estimated the Shakers of South Union served over 100,000 meals to soldiers.
The Shaker Tavern was built in 1869 as a business venture for the South Union Shakers which housed a hotel for the “people of the world.” The Shaker Tavern maintained a booming business for more than 40 years and catered to the Victorian railroad travelers who stopped in South Union. By the taverns architectural features, it was clear that it catered to attract more “worldly” visitors. The tavern contains a column façade, detained brickwork, and ornate staircase. The tavern is owned and operated by the South Union Village and located 1.25 miles west of the South Union Shaker Village on Highway 73.
The Shakers were an innovative hard-working religious group that was able to thrive from 1807 – 1922.
Today, the village site consists of several restored buildings including the 1824 Centre House, which consist of the largest Shaker furniture collections in the United States. South Union is more than a memory, it is a great way to visit and learn firsthand the Shaker way of living. There you can find restored original buildings and a museum of Shaker folk life and culture.
Photos Provided by Amber Averitt
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