On our recent trip south we were looking for a place to stay near Lexington, Kentucky and just before booking a hotel we remembered that a friend had recently stayed at (and loved) a place called Shaker Village just a few miles southwest of town. The village was built during the western expansion of the New England Shaker community at the turn of the nineteenth century and remained active until 1910. The village was abandoned for half a century, a few buildings were lost, but remarkable preservation efforts began in 1961 and today thirty four of the original 19th-century buildings have been restored and 2,800 acres are available for visitors to explore. Costumed interpreters work looms and carpentry tools. There is a working farm and livestock. There is also a full-service restaurant and nearly all of the historic buildings have rooms that are available to rent for the night. As if tempting the wrath of the pious spirits who once dwelt here, the restaurant serves bourbon and you are allowed to sleep in the same bed as your spouse.

At this time of year, we were able to book a suite for the same day and when we arrived we were the only people staying in the stately 202-year-old stone building comfortably furnished in the Shaker style. Later we realized there were guests in staying in some of the other old buildings, but we had ours to ourselves.


Arriving just before sunset with kids restless after many hours in the car, we had the run of the place. There were some wonderfully awkward parenting moments trying to explain celibacy and the separation of the sexes (that resulted in the lovely symmetry of Shaker architecture). To be completely honest, I had always written off the Shaker style as too Martha Stewarty for me to care much about, but being completely by ourselves without any other tourists (who swarm the place during the warmer seasons) I came to appreciate the clean simplicity of it all. Or maybe it's just a sign that I'm becoming a middle aged woman.


Beautiful, right? To think we almost stayed at the Sheraton. 

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