Shakers cling to life—and no, they don't just make furniture

Only a few members left
Arnold Hadd is the last Shaker man on Earth. And you can find him and three “sisters” in the dwindling faith group living on the hilly farmland near Sabbathday Lake, southwest of Lewiston, Maine.

A polite man, Hadd is simple in his speech, still utilizing the traditional yay and nay in place of the common yes and no. Yet when the discussion turns to the Shakers’ perceived legacy as craftspeople, his mannerisms change.

“In the vernacular, it pisses me off,” he said. “Everybody comes here thinking we’re a guild of furniture makers, which is about as far away from the truth as it can be.”

But while such a mistake may be the bane of the Shaker tradition, it may also be its salvation.

Hadd, 51, is a member the last Shaker community. In the 19th century the farm housed hundreds, and there were as many as 6,000 Shakers across the country. But now there are only these four, and new members are hard to come by.


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