Lake Shaker Village
was founded in the year 1783 on a piece of land known as the Thompson’s Pond Plantation. In less than a year the
village had grown to have close to two hundred members. The first oral covenant was made by community members on April 19,
1794 marking the formal organization of the Sabbathday Lake community. Soon afterwards work began on the meeting house. From the very beginning,
the community has been known as the smallest and poorest of the communities located in the east. This is partly due to its
geographical isolation from the other communities.
Today the village at Sabbathday Lake is
the only remaining active Shaker community in the world. The village itself consists of eighteen different buildings, many
of which are still used on a daily basis. The main village sits on approximately 1,800 acres of land. The Shakers use this
land for a tree farm, an apple orchard, along with various vegetable gardens. The community still operates a commercial herb
garden. A variety of livestock is also kept by the Shakers including a flock of sheep and several Scottish Highland Cattle.
In addition to the farming aspects
of the village, the library, which was first opened to the public in 1926, maintains a collection made up of a wide variety
of primary and secondary sources. The collections are kept in a climate controlled vault and are accessible through a card
catalogue system. The library is open year round by appointment on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between the hours of 8:30-12
The village also operates a museum
which is open to the public from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Of the eighteen buildings in the village, six are opened to
the public and contain twenty-seven exhibit rooms. These buildings are accessible only through a guided tour. After the tour,
guests are invited to check out the Shaker gift store where they are able to purchase various Shaker crafts, herbs, and literature.
Various workshops and exhibits are held at the village through out the year.
Believers at the Sabbathday Lake community are not only involved
in the goings on at the Shaker village but they also play a role in the greater Gray-New Gloucester community. For many years
the village has worked with the MSAD 15 Gray-New Gloucester school district to offer a one of a kind Shaker Studies class
for seniors at the local high school. This class also worked in conjunction with the Maine Studies program taught to third
graders in the district. Each spring the high school students were responsible for teaching the third graders about the Shakers
and conducting tours around the village for the younger kids. Currently this program is being restructured within the school
community currently consists of four members but is open to accepting new members. Prospective Shakers can not be married,
have dependents, or debts. They must also go through a year long trial period before the community considers the request to