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Mount Lebanon Shaker Society

New Lebanon, New York
County of Columbia.
U.S. 20
National Register Number: 66000511
Resource type: District.
Property type: Historic District: Historical. The threat level was Watch in
2002.
Congressional District: NY-22 Certified Local Government: NO
This NHL offers public access.
Please contact the NHL directly for visitor information.
Current use/information: Darrow School property; open to the public on summer weekends..

Statement of Significance (as of designation - June 23, 1965):
Founded in 1787, this was the first and most influential of the 19 Shaker communities that were established in this country. Numerous buildings in the complex survive, including the original meeting house, a five-story dormitory, the tannery, a chair factory, and a blacksmith shop.

Condition:
The main group of historic structures has for many years been leased by a private school . The school entered into a sale/lease back arrangement for these buildings and 300 acres with a local preservation organization, which lacks the funding to finance the operation and maintain the property. In addition, 2200 acres of the community's original tract are not within the NHL boundary and lack protection. Finally, the 2500 item collection of Shaker-made objects used in the Village, considered one of the most important collections of its kind anywhere, was sold to a collector in 1990. The collection includes a number of pieces of built-in furniture which had been considered integral features of the buildings.

The Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village, the not-for-profit organization that owns the complex, and the Darrow School, a leaseholder, are close to finalizing a conservation easement for the property.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
A detailed study of the entire 2500 acre property is needed. Associated agricultural lands, contributing buildings and building sites, and engineering features such as the system of mill races need to be identified and mapped. The National Historic Landmark nomination needs to be amended to include all contributing features. In addition, an aggressive financial campaign must be mounted in order to fund the maintenance of the buildings, the protection of land, and the reacquisition of the collection. This designation should be reevaluated. The Shaker Museum and Library in Old Chatham has entered into an agreement with Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village (a local organization) to help safeguard the property. Thanks to a Save America’s Treasures grant, the museum is developing a plan that addresses the historic community’s preservation as well as the rehabilitation of the property’s large stone barn for museum use.


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