Almost 30 years ago I was making furniture on the back porch that could best be described as in the style of “Dangerously Doweled” or simply “Prolapsed Flatpack.”
Then I visited this place. At the time I was a junior editor at a magazine that covered politics and government, and the bosses decided the editors should go on a retreat. I’d never heard of the place we were going, and I wasn’t the one driving.
I don’t remember what we talked about at the editorial retreat – probably our feelings – because I was all over the furniture, the windows, the peg rails, the trestle tables.
Soon after that, some close friends – Chris and Lee Poore – told me they were going to take a handwork class at the University of Kentucky. Would I like to join in?
Today I returned to the West Lot at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill for the first time since that day 30 years ago. The West Lot doesn’t see many visitors because it’s a couple miles from the main village. But I made the trek this morning to see if it was as beautiful as I remember.
— Christopher Schwarz
17 thoughts on “When it Began”
It’s funny how seemingly inconsequential things so long ago wind up being a turning point of much better things. It’s always good to revisit old places and things.
One of my favorite places on earth!
West lot is beautiful, it’s also home to the trailhead for a couple of the best hiking trails in the area! And if you haven’t been Old Fort Harrod State Park you should check it out next time your in the area, the fort itself is interesting but the Museum has some old furniture and musical instruments.
I haven’t been, but it’s on my list.
As a young teen, I worked as an apprentice to a broom maker at Catoctin Mountain Craft Center in Maryland (Long closed). Visited the Shaker village back around 2010, and the broom makers shop really brought back some fond childhood memories. The brooms they make there are pretty good as well.
Sadly, the broom shop is closed. Berea College makes the brooms – and they are every bit as excellent.
I can relate your back porch experiences to my first woodworking experiences, but my results were probably no where near as good as yours. And my current efforts are not much better. And while it’s not so easy to own the badness of that work, I do not deny or excoriate that experience. I embrace it as a beginning.
kinda like the Shakers, simple and exquisite……..one of your best simple but wonderful
Sue & I been there & done that…their home grown veggies add a delicious touch to their dining experience. Time to put Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill back on the bucket list!!!!!
Six-over-six pane, nine-over-six pane, single-three-pane, and single-four-pane, windows all on the same facade! They don’t make them like that anymore.
That’s on my list of places to go as well. I’m amazed at all the stone work. Do you know if that is all locally mined? Impressive work.
Yup. Local limestone for the buildings.
Apologies for my “anonymous” post above. Sigh, the order of operations is important – sign in first, then post …
Its been 40 or so years (meaning more) since I visited both Pleasant Hill sites as a 6th year architecture student from the University of Cincinnati. Definitely an important moment that I have called up many times over in the intervening years. Hope to visit again soon!
If ever I have the opportunity to visit the West Lot, I will certainly do it. I missed it when we visited Pleasant Hill many years ago. Like many, I truly admire the Shakers for their style, discipline, work ethic and inventiveness. Too bad their religious principles limited their span of years on this earth.
Wonderful experiences there. A most serene place early in the day. A foggy sunrise walk before visitors are out.
My wife and I visited Pleasant Hill recently as well. The place is truly magical. We try to visit twice a year and it is always inspirational. The architecture and the wood work is magnificent in its simplicity. “Hands to work, Hearts to God”
Comments are closed.