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707 Shaker Rd., New Gloucester, ME 04260, United States

About 45 minutes northwest of the swinging big city of Portland is a pastoral bastion of good, pious living—the last active Shaker community in the country, albeit with eight members. The peaceful 1,900-acre farm village is stunningly set on meadowy knolls under giant silver maples; some of the charming clapboard buildings, like the meetinghouse, were constructed as early as the 1700s. All of its members, who live communally, follow the Shaker beliefs of hard work, simple living, and celibacy, the latter being the reason these communities—which peaked at 4,000 in 1887—died out. (Those at Sabbathday Lake voted to accept new converts, thereby ensuring the community’s survival.) To truly understand the way of life and history, take one of the docent-led tours. And don’t miss the special exhibits of the Shaker’s famous handcrafted boxes, rockers, writing desks, and other furniture—all of which are highly collectible. Especially moving is the cemetery, where there’s a single grave marker that reads, simply, “Shakers.” The village is eight miles from Exit 11 off the Maine Turnpike.

 

Admission: $6.50 adults; $2 children (6-12). Tours last one hour; last tour: 3:30 p.m.

 

Open daily 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., except Sundays (visitors are invited to attend Sunday services); from late-May to mid-October.

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Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community

About 45 minutes northwest of the swinging big city of Portland is a pastoral bastion of good, pious living—the last active Shaker community in the country, albeit with eight members. The peaceful 1,900-acre farm village is stunningly set on meadowy knolls under giant silver maples; some of the charming clapboard buildings, like the meetinghouse, were constructed as early as the 1700s. All of its members, who live communally, follow the Shaker beliefs of hard work, simple living, and celibacy, the latter being the reason these communities—which peaked at 4,000 in 1887—died out. (Those at Sabbathday Lake voted to accept new converts, thereby ensuring the community’s survival.) To truly understand the way of life and history, take one of the docent-led tours. And don’t miss the special exhibits of the Shaker’s famous handcrafted boxes, rockers, writing desks, and other furniture—all of which are highly collectible. Especially moving is the cemetery, where there’s a single grave marker that reads, simply, “Shakers.” The village is eight miles from Exit 11 off the Maine Turnpike.

 

Admission: $6.50 adults; $2 children (6-12). Tours last one hour; last tour: 3:30 p.m.

 

Open daily 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., except Sundays (visitors are invited to attend Sunday services); from late-May to mid-October.