This weekend you can visit some of the state’s most historic homes — even those usually not open to the public — for free.
For their annual “Home Sweet Home” event, the Trustees of Reservations is hosting an open house day at 10 historic properties throughout the state as a part of National Preservation Month. The properties are: Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton, Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, The Old Manse in Concord, Ashley House in Sheffield, Naumkeag in Stockbridge, The Mission House in Stockbridge, The Folly at Field Farm in Williamstown, and the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington.
You can find more details about the event here.
Each house has a unique history, some dating back 300 years and others around 50. Though many of these homes offer tours regularly, there are some that are open only for special events. Here are a few:
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Colonel John Ashley built the house in 1735. Over the years, Ashley continued to gain money and land, not without the help of five African-American slaves. One of these slaves was Mum Bett, who successfully sued Ashley for her freedom. The house sits next to Bartholomew’s Cobble Reservation, where you can hike and walk on the land’s five miles of trails. This weekend you can take tours of the house and hear a Mum Bett reading by a local teacher.
The Stevens, a prominent family from North Andover, acquired Ashdale Farm in 1729, and it stayed in the family for generations. Helen Stevens inherited the property and married John Gardner Coolidge (a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and a nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner). The couple had the home redesigned in 1918, turning the Italianate-style residence into a Colonial Revival, which is what visitors see today. In order to reflect the couple’s extravagant travel, the home was designed in the “The Country Place” style, which showcased European garden design. There will be a variety of events going on at the home this weekend, including garden tours, story hour, house tours, a plant sale, lawn games, and more.
The youngest of the historic homes on this list, the Folly was built in 1965 by post-Modernist architect Ulrich Franzen. Set on 316 acres, the three-bedroom guest cottage has a pinwheel shape and its original contemporary furnishings. The Guest House at Field Farm, a bed and breakfast, is also nearby. This weekend, there will be guided tours of the home.
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