You can step back in time on May 18 by wandering through eight, centuries-old Massachusetts homes at no cost, when The Trustees of Reservations hosts the sixth annual “Home Sweet Home” Open House Day.
The properties, which spread from Greater Boston to the Berkshires, will host free tours of their rooms and gardens, as well as nature walks, classes, historical lawn games, and more. The theme of this year’s event, which drew 2,000 people in 2018, is “Makers, Masters & Craftsman,” and so the programming will celebrate the architects and craftspeople who designed the properties, said Joanna Ballantine, Trustees vice president, Western region.
The eight sites taking part in this year’s program are Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Folly at Field Farm in Williamstown, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Naumkeag House & Gardens in Stockbridge, the Mission House in Stockbridge, the Old Manse in Concord, Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, and the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington.
Some of the homes, such as the Mission House, the Folly at Field Farm, and Stevens-Coolidge Place, are rarely open to the public, so it’s a great opportunity for guests to get inside and have a look around, Ballantine said.
“The houses have these stories to tell,” she said. “And we love opening them to the public on Home Sweet Home so people can experience that with their families.”
Concord’s Old Manse will host landscape walks, lawn games, and a “Transcendentalism 101” event where guests will explore the writing room of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, according to the Trustees, constructed the philosophy of transcendentalism while living there.
At Cummington’s William Cullen Bryant Homestead, a site Ballantine called “truly rural and iconic,” visitors will learn the history of the home’s transformation from a two-story colonial farmhouse to the Victorian cottage it is today.
“We’re going to be featuring curator chats offering activities related to the crafts and homesteading of Bryant’s era,” Ballantine said. “So there’s knitting and mini looms for kids to practice weaving.”
Ipswich’s Castle Hill at the Crane Estate will present the grand opening of The Trustees and the New England Sculptors Association’s “Spirit of Place” exhibition, which will showcase more than 30 sculptures created by New England artists.
“The tours and the activities will be really fun, delving into architecture and decor and furniture and landscape architecture of each of the houses,” Ballantine said. “Each house really reflected the owners, their choices, the location, the style.”