West

Fruitlands Museum to become Trustees’ 115th reservation

Fruitlands Museum

The 210-acre property in Harvard was once home to the family of Louisa May Alcott.

The Fruitlands Museum, a 210-acre historic, natural, and cultural destination with breathtaking views in Harvard, will soon become one of the reservations owned and operated by The Trustees.

The boards of both organizations recently voted to approve the move, which officials said will provide stronger financial stability to the museum and expand the Trustees’ presence in Central Massachusetts.

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The two organizations will begin an operational merger over the coming year.

“Fruitlands and The Trustees’ missions are so well aligned in our desire to build connections between nature, art, and culture among people of all ages and to provide opportunities for lifelong learning and engagement,” said Marie LeBlanc, chairwoman of the Fruitlands board. “We are confident that The Trustees will provide the platform Fruitlands needs to continue to grow, care for, and share its important legacy and collections.’’

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Founded in 1914, the site has 2 miles of recreational trails and three collections of significant Shaker, Native American, and American art and artifacts.

The property also has a farmhouse that was home to the family of Louisa May Alcott and is a National Historic Landmark. Fruitlands has about 20,000 visitors annually.

The Trustees is a statewide group that protects and oversees 114 sites in Massachusetts open to the public. The properties include working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, community parks, barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns, and historic sites.

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Six of the properties are National Historic Landmarks, including the Old Manse in Concord, another home to a literary family: the Emersons. The Manse was also home to fellow Transcendentalist Nathaniel Hawthorne for a period.

“We’re known for protecting the natural, scenic, and historic, and Fruitlands has all of those things,’’ said Barbara Erickson, Trustees’ president. “It’s a very compelling place.’’

LeBlanc said the decision to seek a partnership was a way to expand and bolster the Fruitlands’ visibility and offerings in a time of changing demographics and interests.

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo-.com.
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