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By comparing the development of Shaker dwelling houses with the Quaker-led reform of prisons and insane asylums during the Second Great Awakening, this article places Shaker architecture into a larger context of reform in early-nineteenth-century America. In it, I demonstrate how and why the Shakers incorporated ideas from the outside world and applied them to their own buildings as a means to shape and control behavior. An examination of specific structures and contemporary discourses on reform architecture reveals similarities between Shaker buildings and those of mainstream society. In all its villages, the sect reproduced architectural forms largely developed by Shaker leaders in New Lebanon, New York, albeit with regional variations. Dwelling houses, in particular, provide a good idea of what the Shakers hoped to accomplish through their architecture. As the focus of Shaker daily life and worship, the dwellings tell as much about how the Shakers used their buildings and the spaces created by them to try to construct a utopian environment in which all members strove for perfection and individuals subordinated themselves to the good of the whole.

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Journal Of The Society Of Architectural Historians





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Published as "The Architecture of Control: Shaker Dwelling Houses and the Reform Movement in Early-Nineteenth-Century America," Julie Nicoletta, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 62, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 352-387. © 2003 by the Regents of the University of California.

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