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[photo] The Centre House at South Union has been recognized as one of the finest Shaker buildings in existence
Courtesy of the Shaker Museum at South Union

The longest-lived Shaker community in the West, South Union Shakertown in Kentucky, was active from 1807 to 1922. Comprised of 225 buildings and 6,000 acres of land, the architecture of this Shaker village reflects a regional Southern influence, quite distinct from the villages of the eastern United States. South Union's Centre House has been recognized as one of the finest Shaker buildings in existence with its simple refined details--the curves of its limestone gutters and its many elegant arches. This three and one-half-story, T-shaped dwelling for the Church family was built with handmade brick and a hand-hewn limestone foundation between 1822 and 1833 and became the central building of the South Union village. Although it incorporated separate spaces within the dwelling, the Centre House did not include the typical gender-separated main entrance, but had a double stone stairway leading to a single main doorway instead.

[photo] The South Union Hotel/Tavern built in 1869 reflects the influence of Victorian and Southern regional architecture within this village
Courtesy of the Shaker Museum at South Union

Another unusual building at South Union is the 1869 tavern and hotel. The building contrasts sharply with the reserved, conservative appearance of the more traditional buildings found elsewhere in the community. Built close to the railroad junction, the hotel reflects the influence of the outside world on this community with its mid-Victorian arcade and balcony, perhaps used to appeal to potential visitors (and customers) to the community. South Union was visited by several influential figures during the 19th century including President James Monroe, General Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Sam Houston. Today, the Shaker Museum at South Union owns and manages eight Shaker buildings and 600 acres of original farmland, and houses the largest collection of Southern Shaker furniture in the United States.

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South Union Shakertown Historic District is located along US Hwy. 68 in South Union, Kentucky. The Shaker Museum at South Union is open for tours March 1-November 30, 9:00am to 4:00pm Monday-Saturday, and 1:00pm to 4:00pm Sundays (closed Thanksgiving). For more information call 1-800-811-8379 or visit the website.

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