One of the last Shakers in Maine has died.

Sister Frances Carr, 89, died Monday afternoon, according to a post on the website of the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester.

She had experienced a brief battle with cancer.

“The end came swiftly and with dignity surrounded by the community and her nieces,” the post read. “We ask your prayers for her soul.”

An offshoot of the Quakers, the Shakers were founded in England in the 1740s and moved to America in 1764. At one time, Maine was home to three Shaker villages – in Gorham, Alfred and at Sabbathday Lake. By the 1930s, the remaining Shakers consolidated their resources in New Gloucester.

Their celibate community comprised adult converts, and the numbers dwindled in recent years. The Shaker Museum and Shaker Library at Sabbathday Lake still preserve the history and traditions of the Christian community.


Only two Shakers – Brother Arnold Hadd and Sister June Carpenter – remain. Hadd declined to be interviewed Monday night.

Carr, who came to the village a 10-year-old orphan from Lewiston, was a leader for the small community. In 1985, she published a cookbook called “Shaker Your Plate: Of Shaker Cooks and Cooking.”

“What is Shaker cooking?” Carr wrote in the introduction.

“Basically it is plain, wholesome food well prepared. This book is not intended for the sophisticated palate, nor for the gourmet (although many people have referred to some of the dishes as being gourmet). It is not meant for those who enjoy eating in expensive restaurants where one may find lobster dishes, steaks and prime rib of beef. Shakers in Maine did not have this type of food. It is intended for those people who enjoy simple food painstakingly prepared.”

Visiting hours for Carr will be held in the brick Dwelling House at the Shaker Village in New Gloucseter on Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held in the Dwelling House Chapel at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Shakers asked that donations be made in Carr’s memory to Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice in Lewiston.


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