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Canterbury Shaker Village

Canterbury, New Hampshire
County of Merrimack.
288 Shaker Road
National Register Number: 75000129
Resource type: District.
Property type: Religion - church related residence. The threat level was Watch in
Congressional District: NH-2 Certified Local Government: NO
This NHL offers public access.
Please contact the NHL directly for visitor information.
Current use/information: Museum: www.shakers.org.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - April 19, 1993):
Canterbury Shaker Village (CSV) is a complex of 24 communal religious, residential, and workshop buildings constructed between 1792 and 1932. It is among the most architecturally intact and authentic of the surviving Shaker villages. Although the death of Sister Ethel Hudson in 1992 brought an end to the Shakers' residence at Canterbury, the substantial artifact collections as well as archives containing oral historic documentation, journals, photographs and other records provide a comprehensive view of two hundred years of daily life at the village. In addition, archaeological investigation, measured drawings and historic structures reports describing the history, interior and exterior design, and condition of each building provide a critical permanent record of the physical fabric of the village, making Canterbury the best-preserved of the remaining Shaker villages.

CSV is now threatened by the unregulated growth of the nearby New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS), which has expanded over 65% since 1998 and is now the largest sport facility in New England. An addition to the stadium has been erected (A law suit on the part of CSV and others to prevent it was unsuccessful). Noise levels from the speedway continue to destroy the visitor experience of Shaker serenity, and traffic congestion has adversely affected museum attendance. To an institution like Canterbury, 90% of whose revenues are based on earned incomes, NHIS expansion threatens the financial well-being, as well as the rural character of the site. It is ironic that the Landmark is confronting these problems, since the state has spent considerable money to put a conservation easement on the Village and some additional farms once owned by the Shakers."

There is a proposal to erect a 150’ telecommunications tower on the Village’s southern boundary and in its primary scenic view shed. The tower would be readily visible from the historic area. The Village has opposed the tower proposal before all appropriate local planning and zoning boards, and lost. The State Historic Preservation Office ruled that the construction of the tower would adversely affect the National Historic Landmark and the issue is before the Telecommunications Commission in Washington, DC. In 2000, the Village received a Save America's Treasure grant of $250,000 to repair the damaged roof on the 1793 Dwelling House, install a fire suppression system and a security system, and make other necessary repairs. That grant has been matched and the Dwelling house is now open to the public.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
The Landmark needs protection and action by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to require the relocation of the proposed tower or a significant reduction in its height to the prevailing tree line of 70 to 90 feet. Canterbury Shaker Village wants to commission independent studies of noise levels, pollution, traffic congestion and the environmental impact of expanded operations at the Speedway, and build a grass roots coalition to help protect the Landmark against the expansion of the Speedway. Some mitigation of noise levels might be provided by the use of mufflers and by having "quiet days" on the Speedway, particularly at times when CSV has scheduled major events. Diverting increasing Speedway traffic away from the Village is also recommended.

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