Monday, April 9, 2012

Fruitlands Museum, Harvard MA

Fruitlands opens for the 2012 season on April 15.
Fruitlands Museum, founded in 1914 by Clara Endicott Sears, takes its name from an experiment led by Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane, which took place here in 1843.
The complex includes:
The Fruitlands Farmhouse, the site of an experiment led by Alcott and Lane in 1843
• The Shaker Office Building, which houses the largest archive of Harvard Shaker documents in the world 
• The Native American Gallery, which houses a significant collection of artifacts that honors the spiritual presence and cultural history of the first Americans 
• The Art Gallery, containing 100 Hudson River School landscape paintings, and significantly, over 230 nineteenth century vernacular portraits, the second largest collection in the country.

Sears maintained a summer estate and “gentleman’s farm” here along with the museum complex from 1914 until her death in 1960. During her lifetime, Miss Sears published several books, wrote popular songs for WW1, and ran a cannery and food drying charity, which sent 2 tons of food to the troops in the trenches of France. In 1930, the Fruitlands Museum, which continues her work in historic preservation, was incorporated.

The property has a rich history and has been host to some of the most famous people in history. Thoreau walked Prospect Hill and admired its view. Emerson visited Alcott here, and Louisa May (then 10), would relate her experiences here in Little Women.
When Miss Sears looked out over the landscape at Fruitlands decades after Thoreau, she imagined the Nashua River valley and recalled the past people who contemplated that same vista in the past. Sears believed that our common experiences link us together across time.