In January of 2019 the Enfield Shaker Museum received a donation that funded the purchase of one of the original Enfield dining room tables at auction at Sotheby’s in New York City. It is very exciting to have this unique artifact, one of only three remaining Enfield dining tables, returned to the room where it was designed and made to be used in 1841.
The table is yellow birch, the most common furniture hardwood at Enfield, and is a remarkable 21’ 6” long. The top is made of two yellow birch boards each the length of the table, one 15.5 inches wide the other 19.5 inches wide, joined with a spline joint.
The top is supported by a center trestle and three legs with graceful, high arched bases. Having only three sets of legs over this long span results in a surprisingly delicate, graceful, and ethereal look when viewed from the side.
The table is exhibited in the dining room with place settings that replicate those seen in photographs taken in the 1870s and 1880s, supported by information from artifacts of ironstone discovered in several of our archaeological field schools in conjunction with Plymouth State University.
This table was central to daily life of the Enfield Church Family Shakers who dined at it three meals a day for over eight decades. Its arrival, along with the ongoing restoration of the dining room, helps us convey the sense of what that daily life looked and felt like in the 19th-century Shaker village.