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1783 DWELLING HOUSE Here, like in other dwelling houses, the Shakers lived dormitory-style, separated by gender.

The 1783 Dwelling House was the residence for the Church Family Shakers until the construction of the main Dwelling House in 1818. At that point, the building became the home of several elderly members of the South Family. After 1850 it was used as an infirmary and housing for the physician and his assistants. This may also be where mentally ill members of the community lived. An 1856 journal entry mentions that a “raving crazy” Brother named Azuba Train was taken to the Infirmary and put under the care of a physician.


Digital reconstruction of the Dwelling House.
3D model showing 1828 building configuration.

The Dwelling House was expanded with additions constructed in 1808 and 1828. The building was razed by Albany County in 1929.

Top image: Library of the Congress.

1791 MEETING HOUSE This was the second Meeting House constructed at the Albany Shaker community.

The architect, Moses Johnson designed several similar structures for other Shaker communities. A new Meeting House was constructed in 1848 to accommodate the growing number of outsiders who wanted to observe Shaker worship practices. Albany County tore this building down in 1929.

Digital reconstruction of the second Meeting House
3D model showing original building configuration

Top images: Library of the Congress.

1816 DWELLING HOUSE It took two full years to build this large structure and another addition was needed to accommodate the growing community in 1845.

Although Shaker men and women could not come into direct contact with each other without prior approval, the Dwelling House provided dormitory-style housing for both the brethren and the sisters. The Dwelling was occupied until the Church Family closed in 1926. Albany County tore the Dwelling House down in 1929. A Meneely Bell installed on the roof of the Dwelling House in 1843 is all the remains of this structure. Manufactured by the company that made the Liberty Bell, it called Shaker family members to meals, work and worship for 81 years.

Meeting House

Digital reconstruction of the Dwelling House.
3D model showing 1925 building configuration.

MENEELY BELL

At the South east corner of the Meeting House is a bell that was cast by Meneely Co. in Troy, NY for the Shaker Dwelling House. Each Shaker family had a bell on the roof of its Dwelling House to signal rising time and to call their members to mealtimes from their widely scattered workplaces in fields and shops.

The surviving bell on display near the Meeting House.

Top images: Library of the Congress.

1838 SISTERS' WORKSHOP Records indicate that a pool of water existed at this site in the late 1700’s.

The Shakers filled the land in and constructed in 1793 a Long Shop on the site that later received the first Sisters’ shop. The building was torn down to accommodate construction of a 3 ½ story stone workshop for the Sisters.

Digital reconstruction of the 1793 Long Shop.

Shaker Sisters made thousands of bonnets, spun thread and wove fabric, and made clothing in this building. The Sisters Shop was also used to house young girls, to provide winter housing for bees and in later years, a room was converted for use as a music hall. Albany County demolished the building in 1929.

Digital reconstruction of the Sisters' Workshop.
3D model showing 1838 building configuration.

Top images: Library of the Congress.

1850 SCHOOL HOUSE The building was later demolished or extensively renovated for the use as the Ann Lee Powerhouse.

Along its history, the Church Family had a total of three buildings dedicated to schools, built circa 1796, 1823, and 1850.

Digital reconstruction of the 1796 School House.

Digital reconstruction of the 1823 School House.

The last Shaker school built on the site was a one-and-a-half story gable roofed brick structure. In 1856 it received a small wooden addition on the east elevation.

Digital reconstruction of the 1850 School House.
3D model showing building configuration after the 1856 addition.

The school building was modified by the county to accomodate an electrical storage facility. It was discovered that about 80% of the original school building remains in the location.

Top image: Library of the Congress.

1852 SEED HOUSE Among the many industries the Shakers were involved in, the seed packing business was one of the most successful.

Watervliet Shakers apparently were the first to package seeds in paper envelopes and their business was thriving by 1790. The 1852 Seed House was built to replace the one constructed in 1826. Collection and packaging of seeds was carefully organized to ensure high quality and each Shaker community had established sales routes for their high volume, mass produced products.

Digital reconstruction of the Seed Shop.
3D model showing 1852 building configuration.

By 1837 a portion of the Seed House was converted for raising silk worms with the intent to manufacture silk cloth but the industry had limited success. The Shakers built an addition in 1860 that was constructed on the west end of the original shop and at a right angle to it. The building was demolished by the County in 1929.

Top images: Library of the Congress.

1856 HERB SHOP The 1856 Herb Shop and Milk House was built over an earlier herb shop.

Although the name suggests this building had two purposes, there are no references in the community journals of it being used as a dairy or a milk producing shop. There is, however, evidence that part of the building was used as a Joiners’ Shop: the Church family journal records Freegift Wells moving his joiners tools there. Among other things, Wells made coffins, repaired clocks, and made frames for the machinery in the drying shop.

In the herb shop the Shakers prepared, stocked and sold medicinal goods.

Library of the Congress

Herb presser used in the Watervliet Herb House.

Library of the Congress

The Herb Shop was used until 1873. Two years later, it was painted yellow and referred to as the “yellow shop.” It was razed by Albany County in 1929.

Digital reconstruction of the first Herb Shop.
3D model showing 1838 building configuration.

Top images: Library of the Congress.

1888 GRIST AND SAW MILL Built on the site of the 1842 Grist and Saw Mill, the newest mill was in use by 1888.

The building straddled Shaker Creek in order to take advantage of the water power that was used to grind grain into flour and power the saw. Like any other mill, accidents were not uncommon. The North Family journal tells of Brother Lomas, who was injured when a log rolled over his leg.

Detail of the 1838 map by David. A. Buckingham representing the 1812 Grist and Saw Mill.

New York State Museum

Digital reconstruction of the first Grist and Saw Mill, originally located in the northern margins of the pond.
3D model showing 1812 building configuration.

The building can be seen in several 1927 photographs, taken after Albany County had purchased the Church Family site. The County demolished the building in 1929, but a portion of the foundation and turbine pit are outlined with small standing stones and can still be seen today.

Digital reconstruction of the Grist and Saw Mill.
3D model showing 1888 building configuration.

Top images: Library of the Congress.