Tannery (Blacksmith’s Shop) interior
This workbench is strong and sturdy and has seen hard use over the years. It has two types of vises for holding wood as well as storage spaces below for tools. Shaker woodworkers created furniture for the community’s use, but also for sale to non-Shakers or the “world’s people.” They built everything from chairs and tables to chests of drawers and their famous oval boxes.
This structure was likely built as a cider house, and appears on an 1820 map of Hancock. In 1835 it was enlarged to replace an earlier tannery and probably set on a one-story foundation. A date stone reading 1835 is set into the northeast corner foundation wall. Unique features of the building include a windlass in the attic to lift tanned hides into storage spaces, and a king post truss system which allowed the lower floors to be open while the building’s frame was supported by distributing the weight from above. A blacksmith’s shop is located in the ground level. A group of dedicated volunteers help staff the blacksmithing area. Learn more about volunteering at HSV.
By circa 1875 the Shakers could no longer compete with larger tanning industries in the area and suspended the business. They filled in the tanning pits and the building was converted to a cider press once again and a forge was added to the north end of the building.