Shaker Bedroom in the Shaker Gallery

Shaker Bedroom in the Shaker Gallery

Upper Level: Shaker Gallery 

The museum has combined artifacts on loan from Otterbein and gifts from Robert and Virginia Jones, along with its own acquisitions, to present an excellent storytelling exhibit. This Shaker collection is the finest and most complete of its kind in the Midwest and is displayed with truth and beauty. The Shaker saying, “There is great beauty in harmony” is very much in evidence here.

Many of the tools and implements used by the Shakers were invented by the Shakers. The Shakers did not patent their inventions, believing making them free to their fellow man and women to be a better goal.

Some Shaker inventions that are on exhibit in the gallery include:

  • Apple peeler and corer
  • Candlestick with adjustable height
  • Clothes pins
  • “Dorothy” Cloak
  • Dough mixer – tin
  • Dough roller
  • Fire doors
  • Flat broom
  • Fly catcher
  • Rat trap
  • Seed box with envelopes
  • Static electric cure all
  • Swift yarn winder
  • Washing machine for small items
Shaker-Made Redware Pottery Exhibit

Shaker-Made Redware Pottery Exhibit

Shaker Pottery 

Permanent exhibit of Shaker-Made Redware Pottery from Union Village, in the Robert & Virginia Shaker Gallery, Warren County History Center.

During 2005, the Ohio Dept of Transportation carried out a needed reconstruction on a portion of Rte. 741, west of Lebanon. The highway crossed through the property of the former Shaker Union Village community. This community endured for over a 100 years and consisted of four Family Settlements (the North, East, South, and West) within the 7 square miles of the community’s farm land.

The reconstruction work was to be done in the area of the North Settlement. Prior to starting that work, ODOT conducted a number of Ground Radar searches over this settlement area. The data derived led to a number of controlled excavations which were found to contain the foundations of a
number of buildings, drainage ditches, and evidence of a pottery kiln. The ODOT cataloged over 90 boxes of pottery artifacts and other materials from these digs. Later the ODOT very generously donated those boxes to the Warren County History Center for further analysis and display and permanent retention.

Pottery Discoveries at Union Village: Unearthing a Shaker Industry

In 2005 excavations began on the area near the entrance of Armco Park that would become a straighter alignment of State Route 741. This is where the structures of the North Family Lot of Union Village once stood. Due to the historical importance of the site an archaeological project was required before road construction destroyed artifacts and data. The excavations conducted only covered the area that would be disturbed by road construction. The archival research and data collected from the dig reflected the North Family Lot and Union Village and its interaction with the world.

Union Village was the only known Shaker community that used a pottery as a means of economic profit. Its pottery shop was located at the North Family Lot. Although there were closer clay deposits, the North Family preferred a particular vein of red clay to use. The clay was rich in iron giving it a reddish hue, thus they made what was commonly called redware.

The earliest mention of pottery production at Union Village was in 1813, with reference to its pipe production. Tobacco smoking pipes, bricks, pottery vessels and hand thrown drain pipe production were referenced in numerous records until around 1848. The last mention of any Union Village pottery was the sale of the machinery and remaining ceramic wares in 1851.

The first major archaeological investigation at Union Village revealed that the Shakers had knowledge of the clay working process and kiln firing. Their ceramic wares were created not only for communal use but also to compete in the world market. Their ceramic industry reflected another skillful accomplishment to be added to the Shaker way and industries at Union Village.