As a kid one of my favorite things to do was poke around the attics of my grandparents’ houses. Dark and dusty with all the relics of life past stored away. When I was young most of the ghost stories seemed to always begin with noises from the attic or basement. At that age a ghost seemed much more of a possibility than it does now, so that definitely added to the thrill.
The most interesting parts of old houses and buildings are often times for me the parts not usually seen. In these places construction details such as tool marks, Roman numerals on the joints between timbers and sometimes even mistakes can be found uncovered by plaster or sheeting. Of course there are also the things that did not get thrown out that tend to accumulate in these places, saved for whatever reason and are still lying around that often have their own stories and history as well.
Saturday I managed to slip off for a while and go on the attics and basements tour at Hancock Shaker Village. What an experience! Of the 20-plus buildings at Hancock many have areas closed to the public that can only be seen on the tour.
A few of the highlights for me: The upper stories of the machine shop. All kinds of lathes, belts, pulleys and various other equipment are stored here. An old drill press with its flat belts that run through the floor below, looking as if someone had just stepped away from using it but has not run in decades.
The upper floors of the brick dwelling where many of the artifacts not on display are stored. This area looks like time stopped completely in the many rooms, staircases and hallways.
Of course there is also the basement of the trustees building where there dozens of tombstones are stored. These were removed from the cemetery at some point and replaced them with a single large monument. The Shakers, being utilitarians, used some of the tombstones later on as ironing boards.
This is just a very, very brief summery of the tour. If I tried to write about all the things we saw it would be a volume too large for a blog post! The attics and basements tour cost a few extra bucks on top of regular admission price, and I highly recommend it.
— Will Myers