You could spend a crisp fall afternoon admiring period furniture in a Stuart-style mansion on Monday. Or you could glean inspiration from European garden designs in Andover. You could also do both, if you wanted to, without spending a dime.
The Trustees is opening seven of its sprawling estates across Massachusetts for free on Columbus Day, but there’s a small catch. Admission fees will only be waived for visitors hailing from the county where the property is located.
Unfortunately for Boston residents, none of the Trustees’ freebies are located in Suffolk County. But for suburbanites, there’s a good chance a historic property will be yours to explore. Check out the full list of properties open for free this weekend (and their respective counties) below.
1. Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Ipswich—Essex County
The venue for the now famous “Roaring Twenties Lawn Party,” the Great House at Castle Hill 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, thetrustees.org.
2. The Stevens-Coolidge Place, Andover—Essex County
Get your fill of European garden design at the Stevens-Coolidge Place, a Colonial Revival home with 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, thetrustees.org.
3. The Old Manse, Concord—Middlesex County
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. Tour highlights include the opportunity to sit in an exact replica of Emerson’s Windsor Chair Desk, where he wrote the poem “Nature.”
269 Monument Street, Concord, thetrustees.org.
4. The Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton—Norfolk County
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 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, thetrustees.org.
5. The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, Cummington—Hampshire County
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, thetrustees.org.
6. Naumkeag, Stockbridge—Berkshire County
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. Don’t miss the famed Blue Steps, a stairway path of blue fountain pools on the grounds.
5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, thetrustees.org.
7. The Folly at Field Farm, Williamstown—Berkshire County
The pinwheel-shaped structure that is the Folly was designed in 1965 by post-modernist architect Ulrich Franzen. It’s New England’s youngest house museum, and happens to contain all of its original furniture. The midcentury modern construction sits next to the Guest House at Field Farm, a bed and breakfast managed by the Trustees. This home is also only open on certain days during the year, so peep the sleek-looking furniture and then check out the sculpture garden outside.
554 Sloan Road, Williamstown, thetrustees.org.
The Trustees’ Columbus Day celebration will take place Monday, October 9 at seven properties throughout Massachusetts. For more information, visit thetrustees.org.
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