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We Sit Together: Utopian Benches from the Shakers to the Separatists of Zoar

We Sit Together: Utopian Benches from the Shakers to the Separatists of Zoar

Princeton Architectural Press

By Francis Cape


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Whether for protest, religious congress,
companionship, eating, or comfort, sitting
communally remains one of the most powerful
and prevalent of human social activities. This simple
act held special significance in numerous utopian
communities that emerged in nineteenth-century
America, and was given physical presence in the
form of a variety of styles of wooden benches.
Fascinated by these expressions of harmony and
equality, renowned British artist Francis Cape
sought out and made measured drawings of remaining
examples. We Sit Together presents twenty-five of
Cape’s beautifully reconstructed benches drawn
from twenty utopian sects—active from 1732 to
the present—ranging from well-known communities
like the Shakers to more obscure groups like the
Separatists of Zoar. Featuring crisp photographs and
lovingly handmade drawings, this rarely seen slice
of Americana will appeal to the collector, woodworker,
student of American history, or anyone who
just likes to take a seat.

• Communal societies represented: Shakers (ME);
Church Communities International, Woodcrest (NY);
Ephrata Cloister (PA); Camphill Village, Kimberton
Hills (PA); Snow Hill Nunnery (PA); Separatists of
Zoar (OH); Society of True Inspiration, Amana (IA);
Hutterites (MT); and Twin Oaks (VA)

• Includes a written description of each bench, a
measured drawing, and an explanation of how
the social or religious organization of the utopian
community influenced its design

• The twenty-five unpainted and carved benches were
built from poplar grown near Francis Cape’s studio
in Narrowsburg, NY

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More Details

Size: 6.5 x 8.5 in;
Pages: 112 pp;
Format: Paperback
Publication: June 2013
ISBN: 9781616891596
ISBN10: 1616891599

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