Architecture

You Can Tour Four Trustees Properties for Free on Columbus Day

Entry fees will be waived for a few lucky groups of Massachusetts residents.


Photos provided by the Trustees

You could spend a crisp fall afternoon admiring rolling hills from a Stuart-style mansion on Monday. Or you could glean inspiration from poems Nathaniel Hawthorne etched into a window pane in Concord. Whichever you choose, you can do either one of those things without spending a dime.

The Trustees is opening four 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—those hailing from Essex, Worcester, Middlesex, and Berkshire counties are in luck. Check out the full list of properties open for free on Monday (and their respective counties) below.

Old Manse photo provided by the Trustees

1. 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.

Photo by Gross & Daley Photography

2. 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.

Fruitlands Museum photo provided by the Trustees

3. Fruitlands Museum, Harvard—Worcester County

The Fruitlands Museum is relatively new addition to the Trustees’ roster of properties. Situated on 210 verdant acres in Harvard, it was originally founded as a Utopian community in 1914, and today holds collections of American, Shaker, and Native American artifacts. There are two miles of trails on the property as well as a historic farmhouse that was once home to the family of Louisa May Alcott.

102 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard, thetrustees.org.

Naumkeag photo provided by the Trustees

4. 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.


Note: This story incorporates reporting from a 2017 roundup of free Columbus Day tours.