(posted 03/16/2023)



Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review Shaker Village Herb House

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has offered the United Society of Shakers, Sabbathday Lake, Inc., in New Gloucester, Maine, an Infrastructure and Capacity Building grant (CHA-286603) to renovate and expand an 1824 herb house as a work, education, and display space linked to the folkways and history of the Sabbathday Lake Shakers near New Gloucester, Maine.

NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, 54 U.S.C. 306108. NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties.  If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.

The project site is the is part of the Shaker Village District (National Register of Historic Places# 75001931) at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, The Herb House is the last Shaker Herb House in our nation and one of 18 historic buildings used by the world’s only living Shakers. The Shaker Village is located approximately 23 miles north of Portland. It is the last operating Shaker settlement, a non-commercial community dependent on farming and small industries for subsistence. The community at Sabbathday Lake continues, to represent and to interpret the best of Shakerism as a meaningful, on-going lifestyle with something to say to the 2dth century. The Sabbathday Lake colony was established in 1793. In Maine, as in other Shaker communities reaching as far as Indiana and Kentucky, the craftsmanship of the period from the 1820’s until the era of Reconstruction represented a king of “golden age” of Shaker design. Furniture and other functional objects—even graphics–were characterized simultaneously by delicacy and vigor. Evident is an unwitting adherence to the ancient dictum “Nothing too much.” These years are now known as the classic era of Shaker design, and there is currently a nationwide revival of interest in the objects of this period. The Shaker Society at Sabbathday Lake had, in 1823, some 150 members. A decline in the membership of all Shaker communities became obvious in the last quarter of the 19th century, but the community at Sabbathday Lake has, since 1900, been the largest and most active Shaker society.

The proposed project involves the rehabilitation and expansion of the Herb House. Work includes:
* repairs to the existing structure, wood siding, doors, and windows;
* grading at the east face for basement egress and for accessible entry for doors along the west and south facades;
* installation of a new elevator and bathrooms;
* new heating and installation for year-round use; construction of a new basement beneath the footprint of the existing structure;
* construction of a new ell shed addition within the footprint of the 1890 ell shed on the east façade.

In a letter dated January 9, 2023, Kirk Mahony, the Maine State Historic Preservation Officer, indicated that the project would have no adverse effect on historic properties. Based on a review of the project and the SHPO’s recommendation, NEH has determined that the project will have no effect on historic properties.

As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to FPO@neh.gov. The deadline for submitting comments is March 30, 2023.