Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 6: Fruitlands Museum


  

Salut mes amis, 

On August 12th, I visited Fruitlands Museum, which is located in Harvard, Massachusetts (not to be confused with the university in Cambridge!).  Fruitlands is a gorgeous property comprised of art exhibits, a Native American artifact exhibit, a Shaker house, and - of course - the actual house of Fruitlands, in which famed author Louisa May Alcott (who wrote such works as Little Women) and her family lived for a year. There is a restaurant on the property, where I had a delicious lunch that was comprised of a turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwich. I ate outside under a tent, so that I could take in the beautiful view! I thought that the museum grounds would make a perfect wedding venue, and I couldn't help but dream about my wedding day (albeit far into the future).

Alas, much like Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts (the Alcott family's more permanent residence), Fruitlands Museum doesn't allow photos to be taken indoors, even photos taken without the flash. Luckily, the scenery outdoors is so breathtakingly beautiful that I managed to get a ton of photos nonetheless! 

It's a gorgeous property that is comprised of 210 acres of meadows, pine barren, and woodlands. From the top of the highest peak, you can not only see Massachusetts, but also New Hampshire! I really enjoyed just hiking around the property and imagining that I was Louisa May and living out here!


Ah, Fruitlands was home to some of the infamous stone fences of New England!

Here I am posing with a Grecian statue; doesn't she look funny with no hand? I think she was part of the art gallery that was on site, an art gallery that showcased more than 100 paintings by Hudson River School artists.


I'm glad I decided to dress in appropriate clothing for the time. I felt like I fit very well into the surroundings, and I could easily imagine myself as Louisa May frolicking around the gorgeous acres that make up Fruitlands! 


The yellow house behind me is the Shaker house (called a "Shaker Office") that was built in 1794. That weird white sculpture beside it is some kind of Native American tribute, I think. It looks more like an alien to me, with its elongated head and big eyes!













Here I am with a Native American sculpture that was part of the Native American Artifact gallery on the site.
I found a handmade Native American canoe to sit in! Isn't it neat? The red house in the distance is the actual house of Fruitlands, where the Alcott family lived. I love how the red house stands out among the greenery. 






There was also a longhouse on the site to explore! I felt a little out-of-place exploring the longhouse in my 1860s dress, but it was still very neat to imagine living your entire life in one of these structures. I was very reminded of The Indian in the Cupboard, a favorite book of mine. Little Bear, the plastic Native American figurine that is turned alive with the help of a cupboard and magic key, makes his own little version of a longhouse.



















Here I am exploring the grounds of the Shaker house. The Shakers were a community of men and women (there tended to be more women, though - many widows became Shakers) who were known for living simply, with few possessions. They devoted themselves to God and spent their time developing unique farming and manufacturing practices. They were called Shakers because their worship practices included a form of dancing or "shaking." The Shaker communities in Harvard, Massachusetts and Shirley, Massachusetts began in June 1781 with Ann Lee and a group of others when they visited the first Shaker community in Watervliet, New York. By 1850, there were about 150 Shakers in the Harvard area, and other communities had popped up in other places in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Because sex and procreation were not part of their beliefs, the Shaker communities have pretty much died out. The last remaining community is Sabbathday Lake in Poland Spring, Maine.


I climbed atop this fence and felt like I was straddling a horse - well, a stationary horse, that is!


Then I climbed up into this tree. As I nestled myself firmly in the branches, I thought about what it must be like to spend an entire night sleeping in the tree, a fantasy Anne Shirley could only dream about (while it was a reality for Katniss Everdeen!). 


I felt like a schoolgirl walking home from my one-room schoolhouse here! It's just too bad I didn't bring any schoolbooks with me to add to the realism:









Here I am tending to the Shaker house garden. You can see lavender growing behind me. Lavender has such a lovely scent; I can almost smell it now!


Here I am posing on the pathway leading up to the Shaker house: 


Here is the Shaker house from the front:





Finally I made it down to Fruitlands Farmhouse! Fruitlands Farmhouse was built in the 1820s by Samuel Sprague, but it is more known for the period of time during 1843 that Bronson Alcott (Louisa May Alcott's father) and Charles Lane lived in it with their families. The Alcotts and Lanes wanted to isolate themselves according to Transcendentalist principles ("living simply and in contemplation with nature [to] discover aspects of the universal divinity and better understand the spiritual essence of all things...[thus creating] a better social state"), and while they lived at Fruitlands, they maintained a vegan diet - before the term vegan was coined. Needless to say, the Fruitlands experience didn't last long - especially as winter approached - and the Alcotts went back to Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts.

On the porch of the farmhouse was this wheelbarrow that was just my size!



Wealthy Bostonian Clara Endicott Sears bought Fruitlands Farmhouse in 1914, and it was her vision and proactive, conservation-bound actions that led the Fruitlands Farmhouse to be designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.


I enjoyed just relaxing on the front lawn of Fruitlands, sitting in the same place where Louisa and her sisters undoubtedly played! 


I played underneath this pretty garden arbor, pretending that I was a fairy claiming my own little fairy home:




I discovered a grove of black-eyed susans and spent my last few minutes at Fruitlands just taking in the pretty yellow and black flowers.  I pretended to be a professional nature photographer and snapped a few photos, like the one you see below:


 Thanks for joining me on my tour of Fruitlands Museum!


Have you ever read Little Women? Have you ever visited Fruitlands or Orchard House? 

~Sophie

4 comments:

Maggie Green said...

Thank you for visiting us, Sophie - and please come again!

The Valdez Quintuplets said...

That place sounds so neat, even without going inside!

We started reading Little Women earlier this year, or maybe it was last winter? But got distracted by other things. We did see the movie The Inheritance, though, which is also by Louisa May Alcott (when she was only 17!). Love, love, love that movie! And we saw a documentary about her once.

Did you know she's an amateur sleuth? We discovered a series of mystery books starring her and plan to start reading them soon. :)

Bolton Girls said...

Awesome, sorry we have not been posting on your blogs good, but we read them as they come along and wish we could have been with you and seeing all this neat history. I love hunting history out of places we visit. I would have really loved to be with you here because Mama's family originated in Massachuttes. It would be fun to see more of their home state.

Miss You,
Marsali

QNPoohBear said...

SOOOOOOOOO jealous! Fruitlands is so close yet I've never been. We're always going to see the family instead. Little Women is one of my favorite books and Susanna's as well. She met Louisa last fall and has been to Orchard House. We hope to meet some of the Marches this winter.

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