Moving along RT 2 I spotted a sign for Fruitlands. I had forgotten that this museum was in this area. I didn’t have time to stop today butit sure brought back memories. I visited the grounds about 10 years ago with some friends from Atlanta, Ga. As I recall it was in the fall because the trees were turning colors. It always surprises me when someone from out-of-state asks me about an attraction in my backyard and I haven’t heard of it. That’s part of the reason for this blog. My everyday travels as I learn about my own area and state as well as my “BIG” vacations.
Anyway I remember saying I would go to Fruitlands and having no idea what it was so I’d like to take just a moment of your time to tell you a little about this place. Unfortunately I have no pictures since I didn’t stop this time but that just means I will need to be descriptive.
My friends were interested in Fruitlands because it chronicled the Shaker Experience which evolved in Harvard and Shirley, MA. It all began in June of 1781 when “Mother” Ann Lee and a group of early Shaker Leaders came to the area as missionaries and decided to stay establishing a settlement. Shaker Villages sought to provide basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. In order to meet these goals some commercial enterprises were developed to generate necessary capital by buying and selling goods and services to the non shaker settlements that they referred to as “the world” .
The Shaker Office at Fruitlands was built in 1794. It was moved to the Fruitlands property in 1920.
Fruitlands was the dream of Clara Endicott Sears. She wanted to preserve a part of New England’s rich cultural history. A woman of means, this wealthy Bostonian purchased the farm that was known as Fruitlands. Bronson Alcott established a transcendental community on the property in 1841. It was not very successful and only lasted about 7 months.
You may have picked up on the name Alcott. It is the same Alcott family from Little Women. Louisa May Alcott is the 2nd daughter of Bronson Alcott. She wrote about the failed commune experience in her book Transcendental Wild Oats. The Farmhouse at Fruitlands where the Alcotts lived is open for viewing. It was declared a national historic Landmark in 1974.
You will also find the Native American Gallery which contains a number of significant artifacts from the Plains, Northwest Coastal, Arctic and Southwest cultural areas. The gallery honors the spiritual and cultural presence of the first Americans.
The Art Gallery contains a permanent collection of over 230 nineteenth century portraits and more than 100 Hudson River School landscapes. The collection includes paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Robert Weir, John Frederick Kensett and many others. Collections contain silhouettes, mourning pictures, textiles to name just a few.
It’s a very interesting and bucolic place. Since it’s been awhile since I’ve been there I should return and provide you with my form of visual aids…pictures!