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Program 1416

1. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
2. Mountain Park Dragway
3. photographer Beverly Hayden
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Mercer County

For more information:
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 1305 Lexington Rd., Harrodsburg, KY 40330, (800) 734-5611

Producer, editor: Brandon Wickey
Videographers: Brandon Wickey, Sarah Gay

Back to the Village

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Kentucky Life has visited the Shaker community outside Harrodsburg several times to explore the lives and works of the religious sect that built it in the 19th century. This time around, we tour the village in the company of contemporary people who have direct personal connections to the site: descendants of former Shakers and local residents who knew the property before restoration work began, when some of its buildings housed businesses or tenant farmers.

The Pleasant Hill Shaker village was founded in 1806 by a religious group, an offshoot of the Quakers, whose beliefs called for separation from the world and a life devoted to work and worship. (See Program 1305 for a historical look at the Shakers and Pleasant Hill.) Because those beliefs also included celibacy and strict segregation of the sexes, the Shakers relied on recruiting new converts and adopting orphaned children to maintain their communities. Eventually their numbers dwindled away; the last Shaker living at Pleasant Hill died in 1923.

Over the next several decades, the Shakers’ land was sold off, and the main village road became a section of U.S. 68. Many of their beautiful and solidly constructed buildings were left to deteriorate, but others were put to private uses: a Baptist church, a gas station, a restaurant, a store, and more. People rented some of the smaller outbuildings to live in, sometimes adding their own new farm buildings in between the Shaker structures.

In 1961, a group of preservationists headed by businessman Earl D. Wallace formed a nonprofit corporation to begin restoring Shaker Village as a historic landmark and educational tourist attraction. The work encompassed everything from rerouting U.S. 68 around the village to painstaking research into the paint colors the Shakers would have used originally. The plan also called for buying more than 2,000 acres of surrounding land as a buffer against development. The first restored buildings opened to the public in 1968, along with a dining room and lodging that helped raise money for further work. Land acquisition and restoration work continued into the early 1990s.

Along the way, the private businesses and residents gradually sold out and dispersed. Former residents Pat Cocanougher, Dixie Huffman, and Betty Jo Peavler recall life amid the Shaker buildings in this segment. We also talk with Carl and Arlene Gregory and David Summers, descendants of former Shakers, for their perspectives on what it’s like to visit the restored village and ponder its influence on their families. Some descendants and former residents work as interpreters at Pleasant Hill, which today is the largest restored Shaker community in America.

Powell County

For more information:
Mountain Park Dragway, 718 11th St., Clay City, KY 40312, (606) 663-2344

Producer: Tom Thurman
Videographer: John Schroering
Audio: Roger Tremaine
Editor: Jim Piston

In the Fast Lanes

Mountain Park Dragway

If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you might want to stick with Shaker Village. But if you feel the need for speed, the Kennons of Clay City can definitely set you up.

John Kennon opened the Mountain Park Dragway in 1963 and now operates it with sons Jared and Shane and other family members. On any given summer weekend, they may be hosting races featuring professional or semi-pro International Hot Rod Association dragsters or inviting any and all to try their skill with their own street cars ($20 to race, $5 just to watch, but be sure to bring your helmet if you want to drive). Races for motorcycles, junior dragsters, or trucks and powder-puff events just for women can also be found on the track’s busy schedule.

In this visit, several of the Kennons take us behind the scenes for a look at the logistics of running a racetrack, and driver Beth Atkinson and racing fan Sarah Billings share their impressions of the operation.

McCracken County

For more information:
Angled Art, 228 N. 9th St., Paducah, KY 42001, (270) 217-4330

Producer: Jessica Gibbs
Videographers: Andrea Hummel, Mindy Yarberry
Editor: Michael DePersio

Photographic Evidence

fine-art photographer Beverly Hayden

Beverly Hayden has always enjoyed art. Growing up in Paducah, she welded bits of metal into fanciful sculptures and played music. But she didn’t really think of it as a way to make a living. Instead, she studied law and ended up litigating commercial bankruptcy cases in Nashville.

Then, in a moment she describes as a liberation, she decided to heed the nagging voice in her head that kept telling her to seek out a more creative life. She walked away from her law office and (after a detour to unwind for a few months in Mexico) headed for Montana for an intensive three-month course in photography. While learning shooting and darkroom techniques, she also roamed the countryside creating several series of images—landscapes, trees, even abandoned cars in close-up—that helped her begin to build a national reputation as a fine-art photographer.

The former sculptor is still fascinated by the textures and three-dimensional forms of everyday objects. By focusing in tight, many of her photographs create abstract works of art from the subtle colors and the play of light and shadow on their surfaces, inviting viewers to look again at things they may otherwise pass right by.

By returning to her love of art, Beverly has also been able to come home in another sense. With help from Paducah’s innovative Artist Relocation Program, which offers low-cost loans for artists who want to purchase and/or rehab buildings in the city’s Lowertown section, she was able to restore an 1888 Victorian house and turn it into the Angled Art Gallery.

SEASON 14 PROGRAMS: 140114021403140414051406140714081409
142214231424142514261427: Lincoln: ‘I, too, am a Kentuckian.’1428142914301431

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