In 1913, when Clara Sears discovered that the ramshackle building next door to her had been part of Bronson Alcotts' (Louisa May's father) Fruitlands, a Transcendental communal village, she purchased the property and opened to to the public as a museum of the Bronson Alcott's Fruitlands experiment and the Transcendentalist movement in 1914. This was the first of the four museum sections at this location.
The Alcott family arrived at Fruitlands early in June of 1843 joined by about a dozen other individuals, all hoping to participate in Alcott's utopian experiment in communal living. The name "Fruitlands" was because the inhabitants hoped to live off the fruits of the land, purchasing nothing from the outside world.
The intent of Alcott's Con-Sociate Family (as they called themselves) was to bring about a new Eden by cultivating a mystical and ascetic way of life in a rural retreat... Alcott implemented a daily routine of education, diet and social responsibility that expressed his conviction that by reforming the individual, one could reform society. He wasn't very successful. The experiment lasted only 7 months.
The community prospered during the summer, but before long, problems developed. The men spent more time discussing philosophy than farming. This left the group ill-prepared as winter approached. The experiment officially ended in January of 1844.
Open May 14 through October 31, 2005
Weekdays: 11AM - 4PM
Weekends & holidays: 11-5PM
Seniors and Students w/ a college id $8.00
Children 4-17 $2.00
The second part of the collection of museums on the property came about because the Shaker elderesses at the nearby Harvard Shaker Village realized that their village was slowly dying, asked Clara Sears to preserve their first office building, which had been built in 1794. Sears moved the Shaker building to her land, restored it, and opened it to the public in 1916.
The Shaker movement which actually called themselves "United Believers in Christ's Second Appearing" originated in England in 1747. Under the leadership of "Mother" Ann Lee, they came to America in 1774 and settled in New York.
Shakers beliefs and practices include:
1. Duality of the Deity, composed of a male and a female element
2. Ann Lee as the Second Appearance of Christ
3. Equality of men and women
5. Community of Property
6. Withdrawal from the World
9. Open confession of sin
10. Worship expressed in dance and in march
Although at their height c 1840, the Shakers had 6000 members in communities in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, it was the celibacy thing that led to the dying out of the sect. They could only get more members by outsiders joining the order. The sole remaining Shaker community, Sabbathday Lake, is located in Poland Spring, Maine.
The Shakers expressed their faith in simplicity and utility with useful items and furniture with clean lines that please the eye and reinforce the Shaker sense of order and neatness. I remember they had chairs that could be hung up on pegs on the wall to be out of the way.
The third section of Clara Endicott Sears' museums was built around the very first inhabitants of the area. Sears found some artifacts on her land and began collecting artifacts and established the American Indian Museum in 1928, expanding it in 1932. (In those days they were still being called Indians, and it wasn't yet PC to call them Native Americans.)
Although I have pictures of the scuptures on the lawn in front of this museum, I do not actually remember visiting it. They have an exhibit on the early tribes of southern New England (principally the Wampaonoag and Nipmuck communities of Massachusetts) including a section on King Phillip's War. Since high school I've been interested in King Phillip, but I don't remember this exhibit. Of course it was 35 years ago.
They've also done a log canoe project
247 Littleton County Rd, Harvard, Massachusetts, 1451, United States
While this restaurant is on the premises, I remember standing in a long line which didn't move very fast with hungry children. I also think it is somewhat expensive.
The Restaurant opens for the season Saturday, May 7th.
Monday-Saturday Lunch from 11:00am - 3:00pm
Sunday Brunch Buffet from 10:00am - 2:00pm
Menu Pricing A la carte lunch menu $11-$14
Brunch Adults $19.95, Children 6-12 $9.95, Under 6 $4.95
Favorite Dish: The Tea Room at Fruitlands Museums
Spring Luncheon Menu
Corn Chowder Cup $3.25 Bowl $4.50
Spring Risotto Asparagus, Peas, Fava Beans and Parmesan Cheese. $12.00
Romano Crusted Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast with White Bean Roma Tomato and Arugula Bruschetta. $14.00
Quiche of the Day Served with our signature salad…mesclun, goat cheese, sugared pecans and lemon poppy-seed vinaigrette. $11.00
Spinach Pasta Stack Crimini mushrooms, ricotta cheese and fresh peas layered with spinach pasta and finished with a wild mushroom fondue. $14.00
Smoked Turkey and Pimento Cheese Croissant With melted muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato and a side of chips. $11.00
Shrimp and Crabmeat Stuffed Crepes with Mornay Sauce Served with our signature salad…mesclun, goat cheese, sugared pecans and lemon poppy-seed vinaigrette. $14.00
Freshly Baked Basket of Bread
Full Basket (8) $3.00
Half Basket (4) $1.50
Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Ginger ale, Sierra Mist
Iced Tea, Lemonade
Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee
Regular and Decaffeinated Tea $1.50
For the Kids
Mini Hot Dogs
Peanut Butter and Jelly
(Served with Chips and choice of Juice Box, Milk
or Chocolate Milk) $4.00
Ask your server about our daily desserts, sorbets, and gelatos.
18% gratuity automatically added to parties of 6 or more
Harvard University is not in Harvard Massachusetts although both Harvards are named for the same man, John Harvard (1607-1638), minister in Charlestown who gave funds and his library toward the establishment of Harvard College.
Harvard College/Univeristy was Established in 1636 in Middlesex near Boston.
Harvard the town was settled in 1704 and incorporated as a town in 1732 in the Worcester area.
In 1970, ten years after the death of Clara Endicott Sears, my daughters posed by this statue of Pumunangwet.
There is a historical photo of preservationist responsible for Fruitlands Museum, Clara Endicott Sears, standing on the left side of this statue.
She started her museum collection in 1910. The Indian section of the museum was the third to be established, after Sears discovered evidence of Native American activity in her fields. She began collecting Native American artifacts and established the American Indian Museum in 1928, expanding it in 1932.
Fondest memory: At present on this site, you can see the exhibit One Thousand Generations and learn about North American Indians in the exhibit Objects and Meaning. Enter a wigwam, grind corn, and discover how dugout canoes were made. In addition to this outdoor sculpture of Pumunangwet, there is also Wo-peen the Dreamer.