A mecca for lovers of American folk art, Cogswell’s Grant was the summer home of renowned collectors Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little. The colonial-era farmhouse on the property serves as a rich backdrop for their celebrated collection, assembled over a period of nearly sixty years. Though known for their meticulous research, the Littles decorated with an eye for visual delight rather than historic accuracy, and the result is a house rich in atmosphere and crowded with works of strong, even quirky character.
The Littles purchased this 165-acre property overlooking the Essex River in 1937 and carefully restored the 1728 farmhouse, preserving original finishes and documenting their work through photographs. Today, the rooms are overflowing with “country arts” including folk art portraits, painted furniture, redware, hooked rugs, weathervanes, and decoys. Everything is arranged just as the family lived with it and shared it with their friends and fellow collectors.
Mr. and Mrs. Little were both prominent members of collector’s clubs and historical societies, and Mrs. Little authored countless books, articles, and exhibition catalogues. She is now recognized as one of the most important scholars in the field of American folk art.
Cogswell’s Grant was the perfect setting for the Littles' antiques, but was also important as a working farm and family retreat where they relaxed and entertained. Today it is one of the only places where it is possible to visit such a collection in the home for which it was collected.
Wednesday – Sunday, June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours on the hour. Last tour at 4:00 p.m.
Closed July 4
Grounds open dawn till dusk, year round
Free for Historic New England members and Essex residents.
The Cogswell's Grant is a Historic New England property.
Top photo: Cogswell's Grant - In 1984 the Littles gave Cogswell’s Grant to Historic New England, reserving tenancy rights for themselves and their family during Mrs. Little's lifetime. In 1990, an award was granted to Historic New England by the National Endowment of the Arts to form a master plan for the property. The property was opened to the general public in the summer of 1998. All of the objects remain as the Littles collected and displayed them for everyone to enjoy.
Bottom photo: Downstairs guest room - The lower chamber, a guest room on the first floor, is probably the most photographed room of the house. The “rustic” look is created by bringing outdoor objects indoors, such as weathervanes, decoys and dried herbs; amassing several kinds of collections (rugs, lighting devices, ostrich eggs); and removing the plaster ceiling to expose floor joists and beams.