Holy Hill of Zion – Harvard, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura
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Harvard, Massachusetts

Holy Hill of Zion

A short walk through the woods will take you to an unusual flat hill top, used by the Shakers for outdoor worship. 

The Holy Hill of Zion is a historic Shaker worship site, located on conservation land in Harvard, Massachusetts. The site dates back to 1842, when Shaker leadership in New Lebanon, New York instructed all Shaker communities to choose an outdoor location with a high elevation for worship.

The Harvard community selected a hill directly west of their main settlement, located on what is now Shaker Road. They cleared the land, built fences around it, and installed a “Lord’s Stone,” a marble slab with inscriptions. The base of the Lord’s Stone is still intact on Holy Hill, though the slab itself is gone.

This site was used for outdoor worship for about 10 years, until the order was sent out from New Lebanon to end the practice. Worship ceremonies included dancing, symbolic bathing in the fountain, and feasts.

They also laid out a beautiful lane from the central settlement to Holy Hill. This is a scenic, and publicly accessible, walk. The landscape includes many vestiges of the site’s history, including cellar holes, stone walls and the ruins of old buildings. Many of the original Shaker buildings along Shaker Road remain.

Know Before You Go

The main parking area is on South Shaker Road. To get there, take Route 2 to the Harvard/Ayer exit (Exit 38), and go north on Ayer Road (Route 110) and then the second right onto South Shaker Road. The parking area will be about 0.8 miles down, on the left.

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