Surprised by Shaker style

by S&M


Every once in a while, you learn something that turns your understanding of the world on its head. This article was like that for me. In my geography, PhD, the two-way, relationship between society and space was a major topic. One of my dissertation advisors ran a speaker series. He often took visiting speakers out to the Shaker site near campus, which he used to illustrate and further think through ideas about society and space. I went along a couple of times. Thinking of those theories always brings to mind the soothing spaces in those buildings. They are so serene that I picture people going about their tasks happily in a very orderly fashion, without loud noises or motions. The meeting hall has a large open space which was used for the movements the sect is named for. It is similarly pale and calming. I have always thought of those ecstatic dances as contrasting starkly with the gentle colors and perfect order.

Now comes this. The forms and measurements of those spaces doesn’t change because of it, but human perception of them would riotous color suggests a very different mood of the people who created it and lived there. I highly doubt that rethinking that space through brightly colored glasses will overturn my entire PhD, but it is still somehow unsettling to see such a change in something (a place) where many of those ideas came to life.

Or we could talk cupboards, if you want.

ARTS/ARTIFACTS;Even Before the Movies, the Shakers Had Technicolor


51 thoughts on “Surprised by Shaker style

  1. That’s very interesting. It makes me think of Washington DC.

    The Greek and Roman architecture and statues on which many of the monuments and buildings are based were originally brightly colored.

    The Capitol Building, White House, Treasury Department, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, etc. are all their own faux revival style. Ancient Athens and Rome didn’t do the stark white thing at all.

  2. Lemon, he’ll get a few article seats out of that :)

    Ohh, pretty colors. That’s where Rocky should go in Athens.

  3. I am surprised by this because Shaker artifacts are not especially old, so you would expect colorings to have survived.

  4. I am surprised by this because Shaker artifacts are not especially old, so you would expect colorings to have survived.

    That was my thought. This isn’t prehistory.

  5. L,

    That place is amazing! I assume the pics are after it was redone not the condition when you were looking at it.

  6. If that is the house that L turned down, I’m very intrigued on what the manor house she did buy looks like.

  7. Rhett – the stuff that was nice was nice but the stuff that wasn’t really wasn’t. In retrospect, maybe we should have gotten it – much cheaper!

  8. AustinMom – You mentioned picking cruise outings on the previous thread, so I am replying here. I just had to do it for our North Sea cruise this summer. DH can’t walk long distances anymore. Because he and I have agreed that I’ll do one strenuous trip each year alone or with one my daughters, and he will go solo to out of town bridge tournaments and never leave the hotel, our joint trips focus on joint activities, but we do split up some days. On days when none of the Pay Extra excursions appealed to either of us we just signed up for the latest departure of the included bus tour together. I booked solo excursions for caving, sea kayaking, and two hikes while he chose from the free tour or a cable car ride. (I have been warned that on geezer cruises – Viking is usually 65 plus – the active alternatives may be cancelled for lack of sign ups. We’ll see. ) Another day I let him pick and agreed to go to Grieg’s house and a recital. Neither of us like a demonstration farm or cooking class or old mansions or shopping area, and the last day in UK we are blowing off the group and are just going to spend the day at the Greenwich astronomical complex and other museums. We also have an internet acquaintance in one of the Norwegian ports and will try to meet up for tea. Cruises often have days at sea, when he will lounge by the pool and I will do some sort of spa stuff – the ship has a steam room – my favorite – in addition to a sauna with snow grotto(?)

  9. Saac – I have also been thinking about your trip this summer with your son. I don’t recall whether he is 15 already, but if so, I would try for something more elaborate than camping. It may be the last adolescent hurrah. The reason is twofold. 1. When he is 16 for the entire summer, he will very likely want to work for pay. A 16 year old usually needs ready cash, or if he is not the type to be out and about now, he will want to save it to increase his enjoyment of his college years. 2. As sweet as he is, and as close as you are, he will be starting to separate strongly before you know it and there can be a fairly long hiatus until parent and child hang out companionably again as adults.

  10. I love it Rhett – That is L’s poshsummer retreat…23 bathrooms and all! In all honesty, that isn’t too far from what I picture L’Abbey to look like, but on a slightly smaller scale.

  11. Saac,
    I agree with MeMe on the wow factor for your trip with your son. My son of comparable age likes the outdoors. I think rafting the Grand Canyon would be on his bucket list. I could be saying this because it is on my bucket list. I could also see a trip to Canada involving a float plane. A friend has spoken highly of REI high adventure offerings.

  12. L & Lemon,

    I love that the stables/carriage barn is 6600 sq feet and that it includes a clock tower.

  13. OSV is meant to be a typical New England visit of the 1830s, not a Shaker community. It’s worth a visit, but it’s really a day trip by itself, not a quick stop, and if you’re doing the kind of driving trip with a couple of stops at highlights you seem to be thinking of I don’t know that OSV would make sense for you.

  14. “Another day I let him pick and agreed to go to Grieg’s house and a recital. ”

    As I am coincidentally listening to his piano concerto.

  15. HM, if DS decides to attend school in New England, I’m tossing around the idea of flying in to NYC about a week or so before he needs to be there, and renting a car and doing a mini-Griswold sort of trip.

    That would leave time for stops that do take the better part of a day.

    I remember that Norm Abram, on the New Yankee Workshop, would replicate furniture from OSV, and he also replicated Shaker furniture, but didn’t remember if the Shaker furniture he replicated was found at OSV.

  16. Meme, thanks for those thoughts! He isn’t 14 now, and the growing apart comes in fits and starts. He often does not want any conversation when he comes home, goes in his room & shuts the door, then leaps out an hour later, saying “Mama!” He throws his arms around my neck & tries to wrestle me to the floor and often starts talking about his day, but if I ask what I consider to be conversational questions, he’s back in his room. It’s like the old joke about if your head’s in the oven and feet are in the freezer then, on average, the temperature is fine. As for traveling this summer, I want to see the eclipse, so we’ll do that and I may force him to go rafting. He says he likes city trips and I’d like to do that with him, but I can’t figure out how to take advantage of being in a city without activities. Grieg’s house, a recital, a cable car ride, demo farms, cooking lessons, hiking, kayaking–bring it on! I’d enjoy any of that, but can only take so much sitting in a cafe.

  17. Finn, expanding in what HM said above, the Shakers were religious communities. They believed in separation trom the world and in communal living.
    What are the Shakers’ basic tenets?
    Celibacy, communal life, and confession of sin are the basic religious tenets of the Shakers. Other important beliefs are separation from the world, equality of the races and genders, and pacifism. Shakers believe that their founder, Mother Ann Lee, embodied the second coming of the Christ spirit as manifested on Earth.

    Old Sturbridge Village is “the world”. There is a Quaker meeting house, but that is only part of the museum, and Quakers (the Society of Friends) are not Shakers and did not separate themselves from the world.
    Old Sturbridge Village, the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s. You are invited into more than 40 original buildings, including homes, meetinghouses, a district school, country store, bank, working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops – all situated on more than 200 scenic acres. Visitors can meet heritage breed farm animals and interact with authentically costumed staff.

    Shakers did sell things, but a Shaker piece of furniture would not have been made in OSV.

  18. I have a mental block on giving advice of what to see in my area. Like if Finn went to Nantucket:

    Compared to this:

    He’s going to be like, “Really, this it?” I sat on a ferry for two hours for this?

  19. S & M, this is the one of the top new stories in the local press and TV news. It is not being ignored.
    Did you even bother to google this before you posted?

  20. Lauren, I scarecely had to Google. Just clicked on a few hits and saw that they were all the same New York Post story that was on my FB multiple times. After half a dozen with the same info, I really didn’t expect the internet would have as much info as someone there. If you have found articles that go beyond that same set of facts and Holder quotes, I’d love to see them. Of course, as time goes on, there will be more info available. I see that you found a NYT article an hour after I looked at their site (local paper) and saw they didn’t have anything.

  21. I was catching up on these threads late last night, and was really disturbed by the “police are ignorant” comment. Saac, you easily recognize that if a minority group name was substituted for the word police it would be an objectionable statement. It is objectionable with the word police in there as well. They do a job that I would not do for three times what they get paid. Of course there are problems that need to be fixed. But a blanket condescending statement is completely unfair and inappropriate. Since every department training policy is different, I feel confident you don’t actually know who’s been trained in what. As the Dallas police chief said after his men were ambushed and killed, if you think it needs to be changed, sign up! There are new classes at the academy starting all the time. You could change it from within. But personally, I’m grateful to the men and women that do the job, and think they deserve more respect.

  22. “He’s going to be like, “Really, this it?” I sat on a ferry for two hours for this?”

    That was pretty much my thought about Martha’s Vineyard. I sat on a ferry for 2 hours to eat overpriced ice cream and shop for tchotchkes? Never again.

  23. MBT, the police are not a demographic group! That’s a silly comparison to make. They are professionals who have a job to do. There have been many, many cases publicized in recent years in which it has been very clear that they simply do not know how to de-escalate a situation. The portion of their training spent on that is a small fraction of the time spent practicing marksmanship. So when they encounterr the difficulties in which they are supposed to help, they reach for the thing that is most familiar, and the one that they have the most practice in. It is not the case that violence, whether with a weapon or not, is the only or best way to handle situations. Look at all of the many videos circulating that show how police in other countries handle even armed criminals without force. US police can’t do that because they don’t know how. The protective holds I posted about yesterday are very common in some other professions in this country. Why aren’t they trained in that?

  24. MBT, do you find it a problem that police training is different from one department to the next?

  25. @S&M – You are still making blanket statements condemning ALL police. That is not okay. If the police successfully a de-escalate a situation, which they do all over the country every day, then you don’t hear about it. I think the police force in my own city has endemic problems that need to be addressed, but I absolutely do not agree with blanket statements accusing an entire profession of wrongdoing or even just being bad/poorly trained at their jobs. I agree with MBT 100%.

  26. “do you find it a problem that police training is different from one department to the next?”

    I don’t know much about the differences between police academy training between departments/agencies, but I don’t know how much you know either. In any case, it makes logical sense that training programs would be tailored to the specifics of the region/agency/mission. The specific differences, I can’t comment on and wouldn’t pretend to have the knowledge to be able to determine what was right or wrong for any particular police academy.

  27. Total aside but my in-laws called us last night to tell us they were buying the duplex that they have rented one side of for the past 14 years. Dh and I were worried at first, because they do not have a history of making good financial decisions, but it turns out with the rental income they are now going to be living for free and cash flowing $1200 per month and tenants want to sign a long lease. So fear not if you don’t save millions for retirement, sometimes things do work out.

  28. Ivy, the hodge podge of police forces don’t just make it difficult to set clear standards and practices, but are why we don’t have records on police shootings. Attempts to examine them on a wider basis fail because the records are not available. Some report to the FBI, some don’t, some don’t even keep track of them in their own records.

  29. I’ve worked in two departments where we called the police nearly daily. One was a busy trauma center and one was a rough community hospital. In one situation the police could take any situation and have it end in 4 point restraints and sedation, in the other location the police seemed to be able to deescalate anything. There is a lot of variety among departments. The really good department had 4 officers shot while sitting and drinking coffee a while back. I have a lot of respect for the hard work and risk that goes into the job. I realize police culture is hot button issue, but blanket statements about police ignorance doesn’t help.

  30. I’m pretty confident that every department in the country keeps a record of every bullet fired in the course of policing. I can find many national websites about police shootings (538, WaPo) that purport to report every one. What’s missing?

  31. I agree with Ivy and MBT 100%. There are bad police officers just like there are bad people in every profession, but on the whole, I think police officers do the best they can. I can’t fathom what police officers witness in their day-to-day jobs.

    Tying in to yesterday’s thread about a fix for the blues, the police were at our next door neighbor’s house last night, which was very unusual. We thought maybe they had a burglary. But then we saw a teenage girl leave the house, then the cop left, then the wife went back into the house. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how she looked as she paused before going back inside. Turns out her daughter sort of befriended this other girl and had asked her mom a few months ago if a friend of hers who was in trouble could stay with them for a bit. The mom said sure. Turns out the girl has been abused for years by family members and has tried committing suicide several times – first time when she was 8. She would go to my neighbor’s house and sleep for 12-17 hours straight. She had been staying up all night in her room with her door barricaded and then would go right to school, while still managing to get mostly Bs for grades. Lots of other stuff going on – CPS, police reports – but last night the police came to bring the daughter home to her parents because they reported her as a runaway. The mom explained to the police officer what was going on, but the police officer had to return her to her parents’ house. I can’t imagine having to return a teenager back to the place where you know she is going to get beaten up. I can’t imagine how many times police officers see people being awful to one another.

    I didn’t know this had been going on and had texted the mom after the police had left and asked if she was okay or needed anything. She came over and talked and shared the story and had a glass of wine and cried. She really needed to vent. I don’t know what I’d do if I was in her situation – this stranger has been thrown into her life and now she is trying to figure out how to protect her. I’m now saying prayers that this girl can survive until she is 18 and can free herself from her parents. I’m not worried about CPS coming after me either, because it seems CPS really tries to keep kids and parents together.

    Total hijack story, but I needed to share it somewhere. I’m stressed about this situation, and I’m just a bystander. I had a really crappy work day yesterday, but I got my perspective back now. Last night, my son woke up at 3 AM crying that he wanted to cuddle. So I crawled into bed with him until he fell asleep trying to not cry thinking about how this girl is somewhere barricaded in her room not sleeping and hoping to not get beaten up tonight.

  32. tcmama, your story made me tear up. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you and your neighbor to be so close to it, yet feel so helpless.

  33. “MBT, the police are not a demographic group! That’s a silly comparison to make. ”

    It doesn’t matter. They are still a group and the comparison is legitimate.

    TC: That totally sucks. I’m so, so sorry for the girl.

  34. tcmama, thank you for sharing that story. It’s maddening that they have returned this girl to her family. I’d like to know how this happens, but I know I’ve heard stories similar to this more than stories where children were unfairly taken from their parents. (Like those stories about free-range parenting discussed here.)

  35. CoC – DH is a lawyer, but not in this area of law. The little he knows about it is that it is pretty difficult for a minor to get emancipation from their parents. And from what our neighbor understands, the system is set up that a minor has little, if any, rights. She said even if the girl went to a shelter that the shelter would have to get permission from her parents. And the neighbor could go to jail if she is harboring a runaway. DH was going to ask around to see if he could find out more about the law.

    The complexities of it are infuriating. I want to be able to just take the girl away from harm, but it isn’t possible. The school social worker is involved too along with CPS. My neighbor was super frustrated with CPS. I can’t imagine working for CPS either. I’m sure that this very traumatic situation is not unique to what they see day-to-day. It was very eye-opening to understand the home-life difficulties students bring to school with them each day.

    Thanks for letting me vent here. I hope now I can focus on work for a bit.

  36. The comparison of a demographic group to a profession is not valid, because no one applies for, is trained in, or ever stops being a member of a demographic group. No stopping at the end of the day or retiring.

    I’m glad there are some good police officers and units. But I am extremely concerned about the problems and the directions in which some police forces are moving–getting training from the Israeli military, black ski masks, on so on. If you get some questions on a test right and some wrong, you focus on what needs work. At some level, you will be satisfied that “enough” is right. We obviously have different levels for that.

    Ada, are you referring to the database the WP began keeping in 2015? This is from its methodology section
    The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal shootings by police, but officials acknowledge that their data is incomplete. In 2015, The Post documented more than twice as many fatal shootings by police as had been recorded by the FBI. Last year, the FBI announced plans to overhaul how it tracks fatal police encounters.

    It’s good that someone is doing it. If you read the entire methodology section, they mention the lack of data several times. This lack of information is why no national studies of police violence can be made. The information simply isn’t there in a consistent way, and two years is not enough to give any kind of historical perspective. There have been studies done in individual cities, but of course each city is different, so the results can’t be carried over to other places.

  37. Ada, from the other source you mentioned, 538. Note that reporting by PDs is voluntary. Some do, some don’t. Also note the sentence beginning “But without reliable data…”

    There is a problem of police violence in this country. How much you notice and it (and perhaps how much you care about it) depends to a great extent on who and where you are. It is impossible for researchers to study the problem, because there have not been sources of data until very recently.

    Criminal justice researchers have long argued that official counts of police killings, which rely on voluntary reports from local police departments, are woefully incomplete. Over the past decade, about half a dozen efforts by activists, volunteers and media organizations have sprung up in response to widespread outrage about high-profile killings by police officers to try to fill the breach using information from media reports and other sources. Their annual death toll estimates since 2013 have generally ranged from 1,100 to 1,400, more than twice as high as the counts from official government sources.

    Thursday’s report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is effectively an acknowledgment that the amateurs were right. It used media reports to fill in the gaps in data provided by law-enforcement agencies and reached a figure similar to those from the private groups.1

    The corroboration by BJS of other outfits’ numbers “speaks to the power of some of what we’ve been collecting and what so many others have been collecting — that it’s really been able to approximate those numbers,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, who leads one of the volunteer efforts, Mapping Police Violence, and co-founded Campaign Zero, a group that promotes policy ideas that it says can reduce the number of people killed by police officers. Sinyangwe said the new estimate from BJS “sounds correct.” Mapping Police Violence lists 1,198 people killed by police during the period covered by the BJS report; the Guardian, which has been counting police killings since last year, lists 1,127.

    Sinyangwe and other activists worry, however, that the government’s new efforts to collect better data on police killings won’t continue under Donald Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions. If the Senate confirms Sessions, “I am skeptical about whether they will move forward with this,” Sinyangwe said. Spokespeople for Trump and Sessions didn’t return emails seeking comment.

    The inadequacy of official statistics on police violence has drawn national attention since Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, killed Michael Brown, a black man, in August 2014. Brown’s death and other high-profile police killings raised the profile of the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked a nationwide debate over police violence. But without reliable data, researchers couldn’t answer even basic questions about who was killed by police or whether the number of such deaths was rising or falling. FBI Director James Comey — whose agency, like BJS, is part of the Justice Department — last year called the lack of good data “ridiculous.”

    Now the government is trying to improve its data. Last year, BJS researchers found that the agency’s existing methods of counting arrest-related deaths — basically, asking police departments to report totals — were probably missing about half of all cases. (Some researchers think even more were being missed.) Thursday’s report builds on that research by trying to find the deaths that were missing from official counts, using several methods.

  38. I found out that the girl was brought to a shelter last night instead of being brought back home. Possibly CPS is opening another investigation. Thank God.

  39. Tcn, that’s great news. I had a hard time believing they would have taken her back home given what is going on.

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