Located in the Enfield Shaker Village in Enfield, New Hampshire, this stunning chapel building clearly depicts the significance of religion and faith in the Shaker Community. The church structure however, was built after the Shakers sold the property! In 1923, after 130 years of farming, manufacturing, and productive existence, declining membership forced the Shakers to close their community and put it up for sale. In 1927, the Shakers sold the site to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, an order of Catholic priests, ensuring the continued tradition of spiritual, communal life on the site. The La Salettes also continued the very active agricultural use of the site as well as establishing a seminary and high school here.
The Mary Keane Chapel dates from the post-Shaker era at the Church Family site. Designed by Donat R. Baribault of Springfield, Massachusetts, the chapel was built for the Brothers of the La Salette Order with funds donated by their benefactress, Mary Keane. Ms. Keane, who had inherited a fortune from her uncle, pledged that fortune to assist the La Salette’s in the establishment of a French language seminary in Enfield. Her wealth helped purchase the former Shaker community, renovate the building for La Salette’s use, and build the Mary Keane Chapel.
The property was purchased again in 1985 and has operated as the Enfield Shaker Museum starting in 1986. The museum offers educational exhibits and programs designed to invite active participation in learning about the extraordinary people who once lived and worked here.
This 1819 building was originally located next to the first dwelling house on the present location of the Great Stone Dwelling in Enfield Shaker Village. The Shakers moved this structure to its current location in 1834 to make room for their new stone dwelling house. The building was primarily used as a school building for the Shaker children, but was soon converted to a tailor’s shop after the boy’s and girl’s schools were joined into one room. In Shaker communities throughout the United States, it was customary for Shaker tailors to create the clothing for the men of the community. A brother’s standard uniform consisted of a great coat, dress coat, waistcoat, and trousers.
Located on the west bank of Mascoma Lake in Enfield, New Hampshire, an architecturally and historically significant collection of Shaker buildings can be found, all very well maintained. Founded in 1793, this village was the ninth Shaker community to be established in this country. At its peak in the mid 19th century, the community was home to three “Families” of Shakers. Here, they practiced equality of the sexes and races, celibacy, pacifism, and communal ownership of property. There were 132 members of the village by 1803, and by 1840 there were nearly 300 people.
Within the village was the largest Shaker dwelling ever built in the country and the largest residential dwelling north of Boston, the Great Stone Dwelling. The Shakers here hired leading Greek Revival Architect Ammi Young to design the building. Ammi had experience in larger building projects having designed the current Vermont State House and several structures at nearby Dartmouth College. Young would later go on to be the Supervising Architect for the United States Department of the Treasury.