After surviving a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic South Union Shaker Village is kicking-off its first annual appeal, titled “61 in ’21.”
The village just a few miles outside Bowling Green in Logan County is asking the community to help support its continued efforts to rebound from what was a very tough 2020 financially.
“We have always been supported by contributions and memberships,” South Union Shaker Village Executive Director Tommy Hines said. “Last year was very difficult, and we thought now was the time to do this in order to collect extra funds.”
Hines said the village was forced to close for three months at the start of the pandemic. After it reopened, it took some time for visitors to gradually begin returning.
“When you do that, you cut out all potential funds from visitors,” Hines said of the closing. “For an entire year, we struggled. Attendance was significantly down. We had only one group tour for the whole year.”
Thankfully for the village, Hines said several groups recently made reservations for tours this year.
There is no specific goal in mind for this new appeal. Hines said the village will gladly accept any donations from the public.
Thanks to the generosity of the village’s advisory board and board of directors, donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000.
While the historic location did not receive many visitors since last March, Hines said the staff did not waste time. Several renovations were made to the village.
“You don’t just sit around and wait for things to get better,” Hines said. “We got to work. We do thankfully have quite a few loyal donors. A lot of people donated money for specific improvements and projects.”
According to Hines, several windows have been repaired, the wellhouse has been renovated and sidewalks throughout the village have been improved.
The South Union Shaker Village was founded in 1807 and remained active until 1922.
The National Park Service said the village was formerly comprised of 225 buildings and 6,000 acres of land.
Now, the Shaker Museum at South Union owns and manages eight Shaker buildings and 600 acres of original farmland. It houses the largest collection of Southern Shaker furniture in the United States.
Until further notice, museum hours are from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday due to pandemic.
For Hines, the area holds a special significance that goes beyond just maintaining historic buildings.
“People have a sense of belonging to the museum here,” Hines said. “The history of the Shakers is so important to Kentucky. Their economic impact was huge. Their views on racial and sexual equality way back in the 19th century needs to be seen. They were very ahead of their time. It brings history to the current. There is a lot to be admired from these people.”
Anyone wishing to donate does not have to set up a membership with the village, nor are annual fees required. Individuals can visit southunionshakervillage.com or call 270-542-4167 to make donations.
“We just want to make sure we can make it through the year with our flag held high,” Hines said.