Established in 1787, Mount Lebanon was the single largest communal society in America for over 100 years and was the center of the Shaker world. The largest and most important shaker community, Mount Lebanon created the temple for Shaker social organization, architecture, and religious practice.
Visit the Heritage Center to obtain an area map and directions to this monument.
It was here that the now famous Shaker ideals of gender, labor, and race equality, communal property, pacifism, and the Shaker aesthetic were fully developed. Mount Lebanon lead the way in early Shaker entrepreneurship activity and innovations, including packaged seeds, medical herbs, chair making, fancy goods, and vegetarianism. At its highpoint Mount Lebanon housed 600 Shakers living in over 100 buildings on 6000 acres.
Today, this settlement is a mile long National Historic Landmark District along Darrow Road. Unlike other restored Shaker villages, Mount Lebanon is a living community where people still work and play, study and meditate, in original restored and adaptively reused Shaker buildings. Thus a visit to Mount Lebanon provides a unique experience of "living history".
The North Family Village
Visitors to Mount Lebanon arriving from Shaker Road or Route 20 first encounter the nine surviving buildings of the Shakers' North family, now owned and operated by the Shaker Museum - Mount Lebanon and opened seasonally for tours.
The North Family Village includes the following buildings:
Great Stone Barn  - Exterior Access Only. The 196' x 50' structure was the largest masonry barn in America and a masterpiece of sustainable design. A tragic fire in 1972 destroyed the roof and timber frame. A $2.0 million dollar masonry stabilization is underway to begin the restoration of this landmark and to allow public access.
Poultry House  - Open in Season. It once also served as a plant nursery. Now a small exhibition space.
Wash House - Open in Season. Originally constructed for wood storage and converted into a laundry in 1879. A drying room with large built in racks is still in place on the North end and fruit drying kilns and a schoolroom are upstairs.
Bretheren's Workshop - Open in Season. An outstanding example of Shaker Mill building, the five-story brick Workshop had a basement waterwheel that powered wood-working machinery and the Sister's laundry operation (later moved to the Wash House)
Granary - Open in Season. The fort-like Granary was constructed to to store,dry, and mix grain grown both for Shaker use and sale to the world. Now a Museum Gift Store.
First Dwelling House - Demolished 1973. Architectural elements from this four-story building have been installed in rooms in both the Metropolitan and Philadelphia Museums of Art.
The Church and Center Family Villages
In 1932, Sister Emma Neale deeded the Church and Center family property to The New Lebanon School for Boys, later named the Darrow School after George Darrow, the early Shaker convert who gave his farm to the community. Today, the Darrow School is a thriving co-educational high school. Most of the buildings are closed to the public.
The Church and Center Family Villages includes the following buildings:
Tannery  - Open for performances only. Originally used for leather tanning and curing, this frame building became a Darrow School chapel. Now it serves as an intimate event space for Chamber music. ( see listing for Tannery Pond Concerts).
First Meetinghouse  - Private. The first Shaker Meetinghouse in America. This structure, now much altered, established the pattern for other early Shaker churches (such as the 1793 meetinghouse now part of Hancock Shaker Village) Currently the home of Darrow Head of School.
Second Meetinghouse  - Private. With its distinctive "boiler roof", this is arguably the the most important Shaker building in existence. Now the library for the Darrow School.
Waterworks The Shakers at Mount Lebanon developed an extremely sophisticated and efficient water management system which has been researched and documented by the Historic American Landscapes Survey and the National Park Service. A video explaining the Shaker Waterworks can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDx1rpS2adU.