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[photo] Center Family Complex, including broom shop, trustee's office, laundry, cattle and horse barns
From National Register of Historic Places collection

The Whitewater Shaker Settlement, in New Haven, Ohio, was the fourth and last Shaker community established in Ohio--preceded by Union Village, Watervliet, and North Union. Whitewater was established with 18 people on only 40 acres of land in 1825. Comprised of the North, South, and Center families, Whitewater was a typical Shaker village. While the first buildings were originally made out of logs, these cabins were gradually replaced with typical Shaker clapboard and brick buildings. The first brick building, the Meetinghouse, was built in 1827. With a smooth ashlar foundation, the Meetinghouse served multiple functions in this small community. It was used for grain storage on the first floor, dwelling space on the second floor, with the third floor reserved for the ministry.

[photo] Bank Barn and Seed House
From National Register of Historic Places collection

Unusually, the South Family Dwelling House was not built by the Shakers but by a locally prominent family. Inherited by a woman who later joined the Shaker society, she contributed the building to the village when she entered the society. However, most buildings at Whitewater were built by the Shakers. At the turn of the 20th century a visitor to the village, A. D. Emerich, proclaimed it to be "the best collection of Shaker buildings in private hands in America." With a standard economy based on seed production and the manufacture of brooms and mats, the members of the Whitewater Shaker Settlement led devoted lives, while managing to accrue enough income to provide suitable living standards for the community as a whole. Whether it was in the Milk House, the barns, or the Laundry House, each member had to fulfill their duty as a part of the religious whole. In turn, these industries allowed the Whitewater Shaker community to practice and prosper into the early 20th century.

[graphic] Previous Site rocking chair

The Whitewater Shaker Settlement is located along Oxford Rd. in the vicinity of New Haven, Ohio. Owned by the Hamilton County Park District, the buildings are currently not open to the public. The Friends of White Water Shaker Village are currently working with the park district to raise funds to open the buildings for interpretation. Find more information at their website and in their online brochure.

 

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