Brook Farm - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 17.450 W 071° 10.514
19T E 320670 N 4684359
Quick Description: The printing house and some foundation remains are all that's left of Brook Farm, an experimental commune of Transcendentalists that included Nathanial Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott, and Margaret Fuller.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 9/20/2010 12:58:56 PM
Waymark Code: WM9QQC
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member scrambler390
Views: 2

Long Description:
In the West Roxbury section of Boston, near the city line with Newton, and on the access road to Gethsemane Cemetery, is an unused wooden building with an historical marker nearby. The marker states that this building was the print shop for Brook Farm, a utopian commune where several known Transcendentalists lived during the 1840s.

Not much remains of Brook Farm. The actual building that they lived in burned down in 1847, forcing the group to end their experiment. There is an area behind the building where you can trace the foundation of that building. Down the road and off the path, you can view the foundation of another house.

By the 1840s, though the United States was building its industry and becoming a prosperous country, many felt that prosperity was reaped by some at the expense of others and there was a growing division between the haves and have-nots. Fifteen people of the Transcendentalist movement, at the invitation of former minister George Ripley and his wife, moved to a farm in West Roxbury that they rented and establish a utopian society. The community was a reaction to economic competition: it was founded on cooperation and equal share of work among the entire community. The farm buildings were converted to buildings for the community, including a print shop and school. The community grew and eventually Ripley had the community buy the farm outright.

Farm work was hard, but not as hard or long as in one of the factories. When they weren't working, they did community activities like playing cards, games, and dancing. Nathanial Hawthorne, noted author, was there for six months. Initially, he had intended it to be an ideal place where he could write his novels, but he found that he was too tired at the end of the day from the farm work.

The farm's school accepted children from outside the farm as well as within the community and the tuition received generated income for the farm.

Brook Farm ran into financial trouble after about three years due to several factors. The end came when a new main building they were erecting burned to the ground in 1847, six years after the community started. The farm community never recovered and Ripley had to sell the property.

The property, in its ruined condition, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. In 1988, after a threat of development, the property was acquired by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and it is presently under the care of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

There isn't a lot to see, but you can park by the print shop and walk around. There is no fee charged. The access road to the Gethsemane Cemetery is off Baker Street, about a third of a mile southeast of the city line with Newton, and about a quarter mile up Baker Street from the VFW Highway. Once you enter the access road to the cemetery, the buildings print shop and kiosk will be on the right a couple hundred feet. The kiosk displays quite a bit about the area. There is a map that shows three primary locations: the print shop (visible), the "Hive" where the main residence was behind the print shop, and Margaret Fuller's cottage down the path.
Street address:
Baker Street
Boston, MA United States of America

County / Borough / Parish: Suffolk

Year listed: 1966

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Person

Periods of significance: 1825-1849

Historic function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic

Current function: Funerary

Privately owned?: no

Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2010 To: 12/31/2010

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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