The retreatants here at the Abode are still on silence until later this afternoon, after which, they’ll have fireworks on the property in the evening for the 4th of July. So, while everything is still quiet, I decided to take a walk down to the Darrow School to see and photograph all the restored Shaker buildings there.
It’s been raining, so I grabbed an umbrella from the bin in the mud room of the Razzaq building, and stepped out into the gravel courtyard and over a puddle. I made my way down the driveway and onto the road, just as a teenage boy and girl in shorts, rain jackets and mud boots, were turning the corner off Chairfactory Road, leading two draft horses onto Darrow. I followed them, stopping to take a picture shortly before they turned down a dirt path into a pasture.
I continued down the road, stopping often to take photos of the old buildings. Some seemed familiar to me, and I wondered if I had seen them in Ken Burns’ excellent documentary, The Shakers, which included footage of many of these communities.
The Darrow School originally opened in the Fall of 1932 as the Lebanon School for Boys, taking over the preexisting Shaker buildings of Mt. Lebanon. Later, in 1939, it was renamed Darrow School in honor of the local family who had first settled the land and provided support to the Mt. Lebanon Shaker community.
The Shakers first came to Mt. Lebanon in 1781 and established a self-sufficient religious community there that is especially remembered for its unique approach to living and learning, its beautifully hand-crafted furniture, as well as its seed and medicinal enterprises. There motto was “hands to work, hearts to God.”
On the walk back, I climbed atop one of the mysterious old stone, obelisk-like markers left by the Shakers, looking far out into a wide open field, my arms spread wide, palms up to catch the light rain falling on them.