Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District

black and white photo of a shaker building in tyringham
Building in Tyringham Shaker Settlement Historic District in Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Location:
Jerusalem Road, Tyringham MA
Significance:
Religious Community in Massachusetts
Designation:
National Register of Historic Places
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
No

The Tyringham Shaker Village was the fourth established in Massachusetts. Founded in 1792, its leaders followed the models previous Shaker settlements, such as Watervliet and Hancock. The North, Church, and South Family complexes in Tyringham were spaced evenly in half-mile increments along the main axis of the settlement, Jerusalem Street.

 

The Church Family complex, the center of the community, contains most of the remaining buildings. The Great Barn, built in the 1790s, is a quintessential Shaker building - post and beam architecture with a gable roof, stone foundation, and a clapboard exterior.

 

The South and North Family complexes dammed nearby springs to provide power for the community. Turbine power was provided to several machines located on the upper floors of the Red House, built in 1842. Machines the Shakers used includes lathes, planers, saws, and even a cider press. The exterior of the Red House was demolished in 1947, leaving only the foundations and power system intact.

By the mid-19th century the village’s population was steadily decreasing. By 1874, the community could no longer sustain itself. Community leaders departed Tyringham and went to live among the Shakers of Mount Lebanon, Hancock, and Enfield.