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Enfield Shaker Village History

Preston Maynard drawing of 1880s Enfield Shaker Village
Preston Maynard's 1880s rendering of Enfield Shaker Village [ Closer look ]

When the Shakers settled on the west shore of Mascoma Lake, they called their home the "Chosen Vale." Nestled in a lush valley between Mt. Assurance and Mascoma Lake, it is easy to see why this site has been cherished for two hundred years. Founded in 1793, this village was the 9th of 18 Shaker communities to be established in this country. At its peak in the mid 19th century, the community was home to three "Families" of Shakers. Here, Brothers, Sisters, and children lived, worked, and worshipped. Here, they practiced equality of the sexes and races, celibacy, pacifism, and communal ownership of property. Striving to create a heaven on earth, the Enfield Shakers built more than 200 buildings (including the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest Shaker dwelling ever built), farmed over 3,000 acres of fertile land, educated children in model schools, and followed the "Shaker Way" of worship. This drawing, by Preston Maynard, depicts the community as it looked in the 1880's and was produced as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) that resulted in the placement of the Enfield Shaker Village on the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic Village.

In 1923, after 130 years of farming, manufacturing, and productive existence, declining membership forced the Shakers to close their community and put it up for sale. In 1927, forgoing a much more lucrative offer from a New York syndicate, the Shakers sold the site to the LaSalettes, an order of Catholic priests, ensuring the continued tradition of spiritual, communal life on the site. The LaSalettes also continued the very active agricultural use of the land as well as establishing a seminary and high school. In 1985 the property changed hands again when the remaining buildings and grounds were purchased by a group of private investors.

Historic Marker

The Enfield Shaker Museum is a nonprofit, membership organization dedicated to interpreting and preserving the complex history of the Enfield, NH Shaker village. Since opening in 1986, the Museum has developed educational exhibits and programs designed to invite active participation in learning about the extraordinary people who once lived and worked here.

Each year, the Museum captures more of the Enfield Shaker heritage to preserve for present and future generations. Through the efforts and support of hundreds of volunteers, the Museum purchased the Laundry/Dairy Building in 1991. In 1993, the Museum acquired the Stone Mill Building, the West Meadow Barn and the 18 acres of land surrounding them, and an illustrative collection of Shaker artifacts. An additional 1100 acres of Shaker fields, pastures and forest were purchased by the State of New Hampshire and are now permanently protected from development with guaranteed public access for recreational purposes. In September of 1997 the Museum was able to purchase four more buildings and 8.54 acres of the core of the village. This purchase included the Shakers' East and West Brethrens' Shops, the LaSalette's Mary Keane Chapel, and the centerpiece of the Enfield Shaker community, the spectacular 1841 Great Stone Dwelling - the largest Shaker dwelling ever constructed. The most recent purchase by the Museum was the 1880 Ministry House purchased in 1999.

The Enfield Shaker Museum offers year-round opportunities for families and individuals, including a full schedule of events, workshops, tours, exhibits, and craft demonstrations. Plan a visit to the Enfield Shaker Museum, take in the exquisite sights and smells of our Shaker Gardens, watch skilled artisans demonstrate their traditional crafts, learn the story of the Enfield Shakers through exhibits of their furniture, tools, clothing, and historic photographs, and browse through the Shaker Store.


Enfield Shaker Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution dedicated to interpreting and preserving the complex history of the Enfield Shaker Village and the Missionaries of La Salette.