Free Historic Open House Day

To kick off the Trustees' 125th anniversary, nine of the area's most historically significant properties will be free to enter

The Great House at Castle Hill, Ipswich

Photo Courtesy of the Trustees

The Trustees is kicking off the official celebration of its 125th Anniversary as the world’s first and Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation organization with a free, statewide “Home Sweet Home” Historic Open House Day. In honor of National Preservation Month and its official birthday on May 21, The Trustees invites Massachusetts residents and visitors of all ages to experience some of its most historically significant properties and landmarks through guided and self-guided tours, activities, games, and birthday-themed refreshments. The Trustees’ historic homesteads, five of which are National Historic Landmarks, are deeply rooted in our local and national history. Spanning the Colonial Era to the Modern Movement, they represent a preserved 300-year timeline of architecture, designed and natural landscapes, arts and artifacts, as well as fascinating stories of their former inhabitants, many of whom were politicians, thought-leaders, authors, artists, and titans of industry. 

“Our vision for Home Sweet Home is to provide Massachusetts’ residents and visitors with the opportunity to experience some of the Commonwealth’s most treasured and historically important sites in our care,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees’ President and CEO. “This year, our annual Home Sweet Home open house day holds even more meaning and excitement since May 21 marks the date marks the anniversary of our founding 125 years ago. It also kicks off the beginning of a year-long celebration designed to engage more people in our mission to save and care for these important places.”

Many years ago many forward-thinking donors passed the keys to their former homes over to The Trustees for safekeeping.  During Home Sweet Home The Trustees are providing visitors with their own ‘key for the day’ and inviting them to come experience all the beauty, history, art, collections and stories contained within their walls as well as the exquisitely designed gardens and stunning natural landscapes that surround them.  The free Home Sweet Home Open Houses will take place from 10AM – 5PM at nine Trustees historic sites which generally charge admission during the open season and a few of which are only open to the public a few times each year.  From the Berkshires to Greater Boston, there’s a Home Sweet Home open to you. Visit for all the details.

Throughout this 125th Anniversary year, The Trustees is hosting a variety of ticketed events as well as a series of 125th Anniversary-themed promotions and contests such as free property entry days, hiking contests, travel bingo games and more throughout the year. These experiences are designed to invite members, supporters, Massachusetts’ residents and visitors to explore Trustees properties and also share their stories, photos, and videos using #trustees125 when posting to social media channels. Visit to learn more.


Houses in Greater Boston

The Great House at Castle Hill, Ipswich
Experience the grandeur of the iconic Great House of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, a National Historic Landmark. Tour the elegant 59-room country house, designed by David Adler, and the surrounding complex of natural and designed landscapes. Take in the sweeping views of the undulating Grand Allée, a half mile of emerald beauty concludes with a striking bluff overlooking Crane Beach, that was just sustainably restored in 2012. Nestled into the Allée and just a short walk down from the Great House, is the meticulously restored Italian-style Casino Complex, originally built by the Crane family for entertaining and now a one-stop-shop for games and activities. See preservation in action at the estate’s Italian Garden, which will be completing its first phase this spring. 

During Home Sweet Home, take a guided tour, join a talk or explore on your own. Enjoy chess, checkers, croquet and coloring at the Casino, or make your way through the house at your own pace with volunteers in each room to share the rich history of the house. Play lawn games on the Allée or join the children’s Treasure Hunt and see if you can find the 10 missing locks hidden throughout the house! Guests will enjoy complimentary birthday cake and can purchase additional refreshments from the gift shop.

Guided Tours & Talks:

11:30AM—Talk with Susan Hill Dolan, Curator: Preserving what the Crane family left behind 

1:30PM—Italian Garden Tour with Bob Murray, Capital Projects Manager: Preservation and access for public enjoyment

2:30PM—Talk with Amber Wingerson, Curatorial Fellow


Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton
This elegant, turn-of-the-century home just off Routes 128 sits on 90 acres of fields, woods and wetlands, and gardens and offers an oasis for all the moment they arrive. Visitors to this country retreat feel transported to another time of gracious living, elegant parties, summer teas, music and croquet. At the same time, the Estate's nature trails boast expansive views of the Blue Hills and Neponset River Valley and call to naturalists, artists, and families to enjoy. Behind the Georgian-style main house is an Italianate-style, latticed-walled garden designed by architect and artist Charles Platt. From the garden, visitors may travel along a path lined with rhododendrons and wildflowers that ends at an orchard and kitchen garden, complete with the original fruit and berry plantings. 

During Home Sweet Home, enjoy music, guided house tours, self-guided trail walks, and activities for the whole family.

Guided Tours & Events:

11AM & 12PM—House and garden tours (40 minutes)

1PM—Lawn games and kite making

2PM—Birthday cupcakes and raspberry sherbet in the Main House

3PM—Floral origami demonstration

3:30PM—Raffle winner selected (prize: one family membership)

4PM—Closing and door prize


The Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover
Step back in time to the 1920s at The Stevens Coolidge Place a simple farmhouse turned elegant country estate. The Colonial Revival home has a wealth of antiques and interesting design elements. Outside, discover the beautiful garden “rooms” behind the estate, including a kitchen and cut-flower garden, rose garden, greenhouse complex, recently restored perennial garden, and French ‘potager’ (or kitchen) garden with a brick serpentine wall.

During Home Sweet Home select rooms of the historic house will be open for self-guided tours with docents available in each room to answer questions and provide background.  Lawn games will be available on the grounds, including quilt checkers, croquet, tic-tac-toe, ring toss and badminton.  Coloring easels, quilts and storybooks will also be available for relaxing in the gardens and light refreshments, including birthday cake, will be served. Plants from the greenhouse will be available for purchase and a painting of the greenhouse by local artist Kathy Rubado will be raffled off, with the drawing scheduled for 3:30pm.

Guided Tours:

11AM & 1PM—Garden tours with Horticulturalist and Superintendent, Kevin Block


The Old Manse, Concord

Situated near the banks of the Concord River, the Old Manse is located adjacent to Concord's Old North Bridge, where the Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775. The Old Manse is a must-see stop on any visit to historic Concord. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1770 by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather, the Reverend William Emerson (1743-76). This Minister's House subsequently became a focal point of America’s political, literary and social revolutions over the course of the next century. Here, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) would draft some of their most famous works. Enjoy free admission during the open house, stroll the beautiful 6-acre landscape and take advantage of 15% off in The Old Manse's Specialty Bookshop.

During Home Sweet Home visitors can view and learn more about the current preservation efforts taking place at the Manse, like the replica of Emerson’s chair, an exciting partnership with the Concord Museum and North Bennett Street School, as well as work surrounding the grandfather clock, wallpaper, and book and art restorations. Visitors can explore the Manse through self-guided tours with interpreters in each room. They can also borrow a book and a blanket for reading on the lawn, play lawn games, and enjoy a birthday treat.

Guided Tours & Talks:

11:30AM—Landscape Tour and Talk: Join Engagement Site Manager Tom Beardsley and Grounds Person Susan Adam to learn about the history of and care for this special site. (45 minutes)

1PM—Revolution on the Home Front: Join Madam Emerson, first lady of the house and wife of its builder, Reverend William Emerson, to hear the story of April 19, 1775 and the Concord fight in her backyard. (30 minutes)

1:30PM—Saving this Special Place: Preservations Projects at the Old Manse (30 minutes)

2PM—The Final Generation: Sophia Ripley Ames, writer, activist, and last baby to be born at the Manse. (45 minutes)

2PM—Recreating the Past for Today Demonstration: The North Bennett Street School’s Dan Faia will demonstrate the woodworking techniques employed in creating a reproduction of the chair and bringing the past to life. (Two hours)

3 PM—Saving this Special Place: The 1865 Steinway Piano (45 minutes)


Houses in Western Massachusetts

The Ashley House, Sheffield
History buffs take note! The oldest house in Berkshire County is where Colonel John Ashley drafted the Sheffield Resolves in 1773, helping to plant the seeds of the American Revolution. Less than ten years later, Elizabeth Freeman (nicknamed and formerly referred to as "Mum Bett"), a slave of the Ashleys, successfully sued for her freedom under the new state constitution in 1781, helping to end slavery in Massachusetts. A key anchor site on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail (AAHT), The Ashley House features an interpretive exhibit about Freeman designed by local UMass Amherst graduate students and is filled with original antique furnishings. 

During Home Sweet Home, visitors have access to this very special place that is only open a few days a year and can enjoy self-guided tours as well as celebratory birthday cake. After your tour, consider stopping by The Trustees’ Bartholomew’s Cobble property next door for some great hiking and, for the energetic, a climb up the 1,000-ft. Hurburt’s Hill for a beautiful view.


Naumkeag, Stockbridge
A visit to Naumkeag provides a stylish glimpse of life and design from a golden time. Just a stone’s throw from downtown Stockbridge, this National Historic Landmark is both a rare surviving example of a Gilded Age Berkshire “cottage” and host to several of the few, publically accessible landscapes designed by Fletcher Steele—the father of modern American landscape design. Naumkeag’s many gardens “rooms” and outdoor landscape features—including Steele’s famous Blue Steps—are a pure delight for all ages to explore. The Trustees are nearing the completion of a sweeping, multi-year restoration to return the gardens to their original brilliance for all to enjoy.

During Home Sweet Home, self-guided house tours will entrance you with the world of the Choate family and their staff, including original 19th- and 20th-century furniture, art, and the personal and household items of daily life. Naumkeag’s interpretative guides will be on hand to answer questions. Children and families can go on story walk, build a fairy house along the woodland trails, play lawn games and more! Guests will enjoy complimentary birthday cake and concessions and can purchase additional refreshments from the gift shop.

Guided Tours & Talks:

11:30AM—Naumkeag Garden Tour with Horticulturalist Eric Ruquist

1:30 PM—Tree Peony Talk with Cultural Resources Curator Mark Wilson and Horticulturalist Eric Ruquist


The Mission House, Stockbridge
Down the street from Naumkeag, the Mission House (ca. 1740) harkens back to an even earlier time, when John Sergeant built the structure in his role as the first missionary to the local Stockbridge Mohican tribe. This National Historic Landmark contains an outstanding collection of 18th-century period furnishings and decorative arts, as well as a small Native American museum that tells the story of the Mohicans. Outside, the property boasts a Colonial Revival garden designed by Fletcher Steele, as well as a charming and bountiful kitchen garden containing 100 herbs, perennials, and annuals that had culinary or medicinal value to early colonists.

During Home Sweet Home, visitors can enjoy self-guided tours as well as celebratory birthday cake. Additionally, there will be a pet adoption event in partnership with the Berkshire Humane Society.


The Folly at Field Farm, Williamstown
New England’s youngest historic house museum is an award-winning architectural gem. As its name suggests, The Folly is both a whimsical and daring structure, designed in 1965 by noted post-modernist architect Ulrich Franzen. Its three bedrooms dance around the form of a pinwheel-shaped guest cottage that still contains its original, contemporary furnishings. Situated on 316 pristine, conserved acres, The Folly is paired on the property with The Trustees’ Mid-Century Modern structure, the Guest House at Field Farm (one of two B&Bs owned and managed by the organization). 

During Home Sweet Home, visitors can tour this unique home that is usually only open to the public on Saturdays in July and August and enjoy celebratory birthday cake. Those looking to extend their visit might consider taking a walk among the scenic hiking trails and sculpture garden which features work by Richard M. Miller, Phillip Pavia and Herbert Ferber or even staying overnight in one of the six uniquely appointed rooms at The Guest House at Field Farm; families with kids over 12 are welcome.


The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, Cummington

The bucolic setting of this homestead provided critical inspiration to one of America's foremost 19th-century poets and newspaper editors, William Cullen Bryant. In 1865, Bryant converted the two-story farmhouse that once served as his boyhood, summer home into a rambling three-story Victorian cottage. Now a National Historic Landmark, you’ll discover colonial and Victorian pieces from the poet’s family, as well as exotic memorabilia from his extensive European and Asian travels. Outside, you can follow Bryant’s footsteps on this 195-acre pastoral estate, exploring 2.5 miles of hiking trails around the property and ponder how the landscape, portrayed in his poetry 150 years ago, helped inspire the 19th-century land conservation movement that involved Frederick Law Olmsted and his protégé Charles Eliot, founder of The Trustees.

During Home Sweet Home guests can tour the Homestead, which will be set up as if it were 1929, right before The Trustees were ‘given the keys’ by Bryant’s granddaughter, and can enjoy family-friendly activities and celebratory birthday cake.


For those who can't make the free open house day, please visit to find historic home visitation hours and/or to schedule a special school tour or group outing.

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