The National Park Service has awarded Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village with a $500,000 grant through the Save America’s Treasures program of the Historic Preservation Fund. Funds will be used to restore the iconic Shaker Barn, which has been standing central to the Shaker farm for nearly two centuries.
Two barns that were each built in 1830 were conjoined in 1891 to produce the massive 150’ timber frame megastructure, which sits upon field stone footings. Decades of erosion, frost, and decay have taken their toll on the structure, which is still used to store 50 tons of hay each season and provides shelter for the Shakers’ flock of 70 sheep, Scottish highland cattle, tractors, and historic farm equipment. Serious risk to lives and property will now be averted.
The Save America’s Treasures grant will provide a 100-year fix to the nation’s only Shaker Great Barn still used entirely for agriculture. The funds also preserve a rare version of Dutch-style barn construction commonly found in New York and unknown in Maine at the time of the barn’s construction in 1830.
The repairs will be extensive and dramatic by necessity. The two barns will be temporarily disconnected, and the rear barn will be raised onto 10’ cribbing while a permanent frost footer is installed beneath the 80’ long hay barn. The massive barn will be lowered onto the frost foundation and reattached to the front barn in exactly its original design and configuration. Then, major structural repairs will be made to its original timber frame construction, using like to like methods. The project will span 2 years.
Shaker Village leader Brother Arnold Hadd is overwhelmed and excited by news of this grant award. He is arriving at 45 years as a Shaker farmer. He says, “We may be best known for our furniture, architecture, and craftsmanship, but we self-identify as farmers. We have worked this land since 1783. Farming is a part of our daily routines, it shapes our theology, and is even expressed in our songs. It is our life and our lifeline, as it is for so many others. Our barn not only symbolizes who we are and what we do, but it also symbolizes through farming heritage our shared commonalities with all farmers across the entire Northeast. It represents a harmony between the built environment, the natural world, the animal kingdom, and the climate.”
On Friday, September 9th the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services announced $24.25 million in Save America’s Treasures grants of the Historic Preservation Fund to fund 80 projects in 32 states and the District of Columbia. The Shakers and a crew of volunteers had just finished a long, tiring day of hauling and stacking a fresh hay crop into the barn. It was the only National Park Service grant issued to Maine during this cycle.
Among 80 projects within the category of preservation work, Shaker Village is the only organization in Maine to receive funds during the most recent award cycle and is among 17 organizations nationally that received the maximum grant award of $500,000.
The Save America’s Treasures Grant requires a 1:1 match. Shaker Village is working to raise the matching $500,000 toward the $1 million capital project that will save one of Maine’s oldest barns still managed for farming by its original owners.