The Hancock Community, known as the City of Peace, existed as an independent separatist community from 1790-1959. For 169 years, the Hancock Shakers maintained their Community, separate from the world in values but not exempt from the financial burdens of the world, through tenacity and determination, which gave way to innovation and sustainable living conditions.
Like all Shaker Communities, the City of Peace included its own Meeting House. While each family had its own Meeting Room within their Dwelling Houses where they would worship in the evenings, the Meeting House was where all Community members gathered to worship on Sundays.
In 1790, the Hancock Community was established on several tracts of farmland in order to ensure that basic needs would be met. The Hancock Shakers very shortly established a dairy business to help sustain the Community, but in 1826 the largest barn burned to the ground. The Hancock Deacons took advantage of the situation and designed a barn to be built out of stone that would better sustain the Community indefinitely.
The last Dwelling House remaining at Hancock, known today as the Brick Dwelling, was designed and built to serve as the residence of the Church Family, or the Senior Order of the Community. The Brick Dwelling gives us several examples of Shaker life and innovations, from simple to unique. All members of the Church Family, Brothers and Sisters alike, lived together under the same roof, on the same floor. Brothers and Sisters did, however, lived on opposite sides of the building. All the rooms and features of the Dwelling House are a mirror image of themselves, all aspects are equal. Here again, we see the importance of gender equality in all aspects of Shaker life. With Brothers and Sisters of a celibate Community living on equal terms, the Community was able to be sustained.
Other operations were conducted within the City of Peace for the sole purpose of sustaining the Community and improving Shaker life. Perhaps two of the most important internal operations was in the laundry shop and wood mills. From almost the beginning, the Hancock Shakers utilized waterwheels, fed by a reservoir with a capacity of approximately two million gallons, to operate rustic agitators and buzz-saws. In 1859, Hancock Trustees purchased plans for an Impulse-Reaction Water Turbine to power larger machines in the Laundry and Machine Shop. Additional turbines were installed in the Sisters Shop for a cream separator, the Blacksmith Shop for a trip-hammer, and the Fancy Goods Shop for a ceiling fan.