Laundry and Machine Shop, Hancock, Massachusetts (2)

The Laundry and Machine Shop at Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts, in 1939. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey Collection.

The building in 2023:

These two photos show the same building as the ones in the previous post, but from the opposite side of the building. This is probably the oldest surviving building at Hancock Shaker Village, dating back to about 1790, around the same time that the Shaker community was established here. It had a variety of uses over the years, but it was primarily a machine shop on the east side (in the foreground in this scene), and a laundry on the west side. These workspaces, like other aspects of Shaker society, were segregated by gender. As a result, while the two facilities shared the same building and water source, the men worked only in the machine shop, and the women in the laundry.

The Shaker community was still active when the first photo was taken in 1939, although its numbers were much smaller than they had been a century earlier. The community eventually closed in 1960, and in 1961 the property became Hancock Shaker Village, an open-air museum featuring many historic buildings, including this. Aside from a different paint color and the open area on the ground floor in the foreground, this building has not changed much in appearance since the first photo was taken.

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