Fruitlands Morning Walk

This past weekend, my fiancé Jon, Mizpah my pup, and myself headed to the Fruitlands trails in Harvard MA. The Fruitlands was the site of a failed utopian society in 1843. Bronson Alcott, a transcendentalist, and father of Louisa May Alcott, moved his family to the site and sadly, the experiment failed in its first winter. They along with others were trying to live off the fruits of the land, hence the name Fruitlands. Clara Endicott Sears moved to the land in 1910 long after it had been abandoned to build herself a summer home. She restored the Fruitlands Farmhouse and started the museum. There is a museum store, a cafe, an art gallery, a visitor’s center, and a Native American heritage museum on the land. We just went to walk the trails. It was beautiful.

Fruitlands Farmhouse where the Alcott family lived in 1843
Fruitlands Farmhouse where the Alcott family lived in 1843

First stop was the farmhouse. I believe the house is a Georgian style home. The roof has very little overhang, the winnows are symmetrical with a front door in the middle, but it has two floors, and is two rooms deep. I know that old houses are a lot of work to own, but I would love to own a historic home.

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This is the Willard Farm site. The farm dates back to the early 1700s, and the Alcotts lived here in 1844. Everyone bailed on the community during the winter of 1843, and eventually sometime in 1844 the Alcotts moved back to Concord. From what I have read, Bronson was very depressed when the Fruitlands didn’t work out and his wife, Abby, actually took their 4 daughters to a cottage in a village nearby. They eventually convinced Bronson to leave the Fruitlands and go back to Concord. The house on this site burned down in 1852 and was never rebuilt.

Loved this red and yellow foliage!
Loved this red and yellow foliage!

The land where we walked also had a brick factory in the late nineteenth century. The railroad was right there going through Harvard which made transport easy. The clay & sand in the area from the glacial beach left after the last ice age gave them plenty of materials. There were bricks and foundations left behind in the area.

Remnants of brick structure
Remnants of brick structure
Foundation from the brick workers dorm
Foundation from the brick workers dorm
Foundation from the home of the brick factory owner, J.C. Richmond, 120 years ago
Foundation from the home of the brick factory owner, J.C. Richmond, 120 years ago

It was an absolutely beautiful place. I love finding these abandoned settlements and spots in New England. It feels like if you let your imagination go for a moment, you can almost hear the crackling of an outdoor fire and the clanging of pots and mugs as workers gathered to share a meal. Hitting the trails at Fruitlands costs $6 a person, and that money goes back into the site. The trails were very well marked and so were the sites along the way. Here are some more pics from the day!

It was not a cold morning, but it was overcast. I wore my Barbour over a sweater & flannel, and my Toggis were huge for keeping ticks off of me! This was my first site on my list that I created, can’t wait to check more off the list!

$6….and I got to spend the morning with my fiancé, my dog, and some history outside….priceless.

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