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[photo] Rotating images of the Alfred Shaker village, including a historic sketch of the village and historic photos of the Sister's Shop and a Dwelling c1880
Photographs courtesy of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission

What would become the first and largest Shaker society in Maine, the Alfred Shaker community had both a very humble beginning and an even more disappointing end. Receiving the faith from Mother Ann on May 26th, 1783, John Cotton became the first Shaker convert in Maine. While the birth of the Alfred Shaker society came in 1783, the physical development of the community did not get underway until 1793 with the construction of the Meetinghouse. Spread out over 300 acres, the Alfred Shaker Historic District includes a variety of significant religious buildings such as the community's Dairy/Bakery, Cow Barn, School, Trustee's Office, Sisters' Shop, and Brethren's Shop.

Cow Barn at Alfred Shaker village
Photograph courtesy of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission

Not only a collection of buildings, the Alfred community also consisted of large tracts of land--agricultural fields used by the Shakers themselves. Focused on maintaining a productive economy, the Shakers of Alfred not only worked in agriculture, but also ventured into the realms of woodworking, textiles, and tanning. However, while this diversity proved beneficial for a time, the community failed because it was unable to excel in any one particular endeavor. In effect extending themselves beyond the community's capabilities, the Alfred Shakers brought about their own demise. Suffering from growing economic competition on both the mechanical and agricultural fronts, the Alfred Shakers abandoned their community. Rather than lose their faith, however, the devoted followers journeyed to New Gloucester and settled as part of the Sabbathday Lake society in March 1931.

Carriage House at Alfred -- currently being restored for interpretation
Photograph by Kirk F. Mohney, from National Register collection
The Shakers' legacy in Alfred was preserved by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, to whom the Shakers left their buildings and land, and who have effectively maintained the many agricultural fields once tended by Shaker hands. Equally devoted to the preservation of the history of the Alfred Shaker Historic District, the Friends of the Alfred Shaker Museum continue to educate interested individuals about the history of this religious society, through acts such as the current restoration of the 1875 Carriage House.

[graphic] Previous Site rocking chair

The Alfred Shaker Historic District is located in Alfred, Maine, along Shaker Hill Road near the intersection of Rtes. 202/4. The carriage house is currently being renovated to be opened as a Shaker museum. Several businesses within the Historic District are open to the public including a bakery, pick-your-own apple orchard, blueberry orchard and raspberry patch, and cross country ski trails. One of the Shaker barns contains an ice-skating rink, open winter weekends and holidays; there is a fee for skating. For more information contact the Brothers of Christian Instruction at 207-324-6612.

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