The gardens at Naumkeag will be open to the public along with other Trustees properties this weekend.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Trustees of Reservations are opening the doors to the historic homes under their care throughout the state this weekend.
First, the Trustees are participating Saturday in Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day Live!, which offers free access to some 1,400 museums and other cultural venues across the nation. A list of sites and a downloadable admission ticket can be found here. Tickets admit two; one per household.
The Trustees will be showing off the work done in the expansive gardens Naumkeag in Stockbrige. The Gilded Age Berkshire cottage once owned by the Choate family is in the midst of a $2.6 million renovation of its elaborate gardens designed by notable landscape architect Fletcher Steele.
The home and gardens will be open from 10 to 5 on Saturday with free admission with Smithsonian ticket.
Sunday is the Trustees annual "Home Sweet Home" event with free open houses from 1 to 3 at its historic sites, including Naumkeag, Ashley House, Mission House, The Folly at Field Farm, William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Western Massachusetts.
"Fall is the perfect time to plan an adventure or special educational outing with family, scout groups or friends," said Trustees President and CEO Barbara Erickson. "Our mission is to preserve and protect historic, cultural and natural resources around the state for the public to learn from and enjoy. With entry fees that generally range anywhere from $5 to $15 for non-Trustees members, we are excited to share these historic gems with Massachusetts residents and visitors for free."
The oldest house in Berkshire County is where the seeds of the American Revolution were planted by former owner Col. John Ashley, who drafted the Sheffield Resolves in his upstairs study and sent them to Boston in 1773 to support the Colonists' struggle against British tyranny. Less than 10 years later, in 1781, Elizabeth Freeman (nicknamed and formerly referred to as "Mum Bett") who was enslaved by the Ashleys, successfully sued for her freedom under the new state constitution, helping to end slavery in Massachusetts.
Cooper Hill Road, Ashley Falls
A National Historic Landmark, Naumkeag is a rare, surviving example of a Gilded Age Berkshire cottage that still contains all of its original furnishings. Designed and built in 1885 as a summer retreat for the Choate family from New York by architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, Naumkeag features world-famous gardens designed by Fletcher Steele, the father of modern American landscape design, including the famous "Blue Steps."
5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge
The National Historic Landmark was built in 1740 by John Sergeant, first missionary to the Stockbridge Mohican Indians. The home was moved from nearby Prospect Hill and restored on its present site in 1928 by Mabel Choate, then owner of nearby Naumkeag, who bequeathed both properties to The Trustees. Mission House contains a collection of 18th-century period furnishings and decorative arts, a small museum that tells the story of the Mohicans, and a Colonial revival garden designed by Steele.
19 Main St., Stockbridge
Folly at Field Farm
Designed in 1965 by noted modernist architect Ulrich Franzen, The Folly at Field Farm is set in a natural landscape of 316 conserved acres surrounded by sculptures, gardens and four miles of hiking trails overlooking Mount Greylock. The Folly is a three-bedroom, pinwheel-shaped guest cottage situated next to the Guest House at Field Farm, which still contains original contemporary furnishings designed by Franzen. Tours of the Folly have been limited to B&B guests.
554 Sloan Road, Williamstown
William Cullen Bryant Homestead
A National Historic Landmark and boyhood home of 19th-century poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant. Bryant, editor and publisher of The New York Evening Post for 50 years, was a passionate abolitionist, conservationist and horticulturalist who used his editorials to rally support for Frederick Law Olmsted's Central Park and help elect President Lincoln. In 1865, Bryant converted the two-story farmhouse into a rambling three-story Victorian cottage. Inside the house are Colonial and Victorian pieces from the poet's family, as well as exotic memorabilia from his extensive European and Asian travels.
207 Bryant Road, Cummington
The Old Manse in Concord, the Old House at Appleton Farms and Paine House at Greenwood Farm, both in Ipswich, and the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover are also part of Sunday's open house.