(You can see my photos from the event here and from the last ALEP three years ago here.)
While I was there, I heard some wonderfully spooky ghost stories, several of which revolved around faces seen in the topmost windows of the West Family Wash House (1842), shown below, the building in which I gave my presentations and workshops for the event.
Since then, I’ve indulged in Shaker Ghost Stories from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky by Thomas Freese (2005) and learned some more spooky lore from the place. Here is one of my favorite anecdotes from the book, which is about the Meeting House and told by Bill Bright, a former Pleasant Hill employee:
Since I was a bit bored, I walked over to a spot between the two front doors to sing a little. I was next to a gap in the wall benches, facing the back wall. I started to sing sets of three (triads). Since I had spent plenty of time in high school band, I figured that it’s be a neat exercise to try the acoustics in the large room of the Meeting House.
As I was singing, something appeared in the middle of the benches to my right, on the sister’s side. For lack of a better explanation, it looked like a human form, very similar to the special effect done in Star Trek when they beam up somebody. It seemed to rise up from the floor to my height. At that point, the hair on the right side of my body stood on end, while the left side was not affected. I immediately got cold chills, like I had just walked into a meat locker. I just wanted to get out of there. I left the building immediately…
When I saw Randy [Folger, the music director], I told him about the experience and he simply asked me if I knew what I had been doing. At that point I had no idea. Then Randy asked me to sing as I had been singing in the Meeting House. After I sang for him, Randy explained to me that I had unwittingly been singing the “Angel Shout.” The Angel Shout was a set up notes that were sung like: “Lo…lo…lo…” and were sung in descending thirds. The Angel Shout was supposed to call the Shakers to meeting.
This photo is from the Shaker graveyard at the village (1811).