Tour Historic Properties for Free This Columbus Day

Entry fees will be waived for Massachusetts residents at Trustees properties across the state.


Photos courtesy of the Trustees and the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

You could spend time admiring fall foliage from a grand estate this Columbus Day without spending a dime. As part of a year-long anniversary celebration, all of the Trustees properties that usually charge an entry fee will be free for Massachusetts residents.

The Trustees of Reservations has been working to conserve the state’s historic landscapes and properties for 125 years. Today, the organization protects a total of 116 properties open for exploration. About 85 percent of them are always free, but Monday presents the perfect opportunity to admire the architecture of the organization’s many historic homes. Go forth and get your history fix free of charge, but make sure to bring a couple of dollars for parking fees.

Having trouble choosing one stunningly impressive property to visit? We’ve got a few in mind.

Photo provided by the Trustees

William Cullen Bryant Homestead photo provided by the Trustees

The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, Cummington

William Cullen Bryant was a notable 19th-century poet as well as a longtime editor of the New York Evening Post. He converted this home from a two-story farmhouse to a three-story Victorian cottage in 1865, and wrote extensively about the natural landscape surrounding the property. Inspect the memorabilia from Bryant, his travels, and his family, and see for yourself why Frederick Law Olmsted was inspired by Bryant’s poems about the greenery.

207 Bryant Road, Cummington,

Crane Estate photo provided by the Trustees

Castle Hill on the Crane Estate photo provided by the Trustees

The Great House at Castle Hill, Ipswich

The venue for the now famous “Roaring Twenties Lawn Party,” the Great House at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate is well… great. Built in 1928, the 59-room Stuart-style mansion is chock full of period antiques. Outside, visitors can marvel at the “Grand Allée,” a half-mile long stretch of green grass that ends in a bluff overlooking Ipswich’s Crane Beach.

290 Argilla Road, Ipswich,

The Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover

Get your fill of European garden design at the Stevens-Coolidge Place, a Colonial Revival home that has a French-inspired yard. Behind the house are several garden “rooms,” including a rose garden, a cut-flower garden, a greenhouse, and a “potager” (also known as a French kitchen garden) with a ribbon-shaped brick wall.

137 Andover Street, North Andover,

Old Manse photo provided by the Trustees

Old Manse photo provided by the Trustees

The Old Manse, Concord

This one’s for history lovers. The Old Manse was built by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather in 1770, and sits right next to the spot where the Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775. To those suffering from writer’s block, both Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne penned literary greats in the house.

269 Monument Street, Concord,

bradley estate

Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate photo by Bill Illot on Flickr/Creative Commons

The Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton

This Georgian-style mansion is a country retreat that sits only 15 miles outside of the city. Surrounded by 90 acres of gardens and fields, the estate’s nature trails boast panoramic views of the Blue Hills. While the wildflowers and berries in the gardens are a treat, the house isn’t usually open on weekends unless there’s a wedding. Take advantage of the guided house tours first, then do a self-guided trail walk.

2468B Washington Street (Route 138), Canton,

Naumkeg photo provided by the Trustees

Naumkeg photo provided by the Trustees

Naumkeag, Stockbridge

If you’ve ever dreamt of a taste of the Gilded Age in the Berkshires, Naumkeag is your spot. Named for the Native American tribe of the area, the estate contains a 44-room, shingle-style “cottage” and acres of impressive gardens designed by the father of modern American landscape design, Fletcher Steele. The property’s highlights include the Blue Steps, a stairway path of blue fountain pools.

5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge,