Brook Farm facts for kids
|Location||670 Baker Street, Boston, Massachusetts|
|Area||188 acres (0.76 km2)|
|Architect||Brook Farm Community|
|NRHP reference No.||66000141|
Quick facts for kidsSignificant dates
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||July 23, 1965|
Brook Farm, also called the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education or the Brook Farm Association for Industry and Education, was a utopian experiment in communal living in the United States in the 1840s. It was founded by former Unitarian minister George Ripley and his wife Sophia Ripley at the Ellis Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts (9 miles outside of downtown Boston) in 1841 and was inspired in part by the ideals of Transcendentalism, a religious and cultural philosophy based in New England. Founded as a joint stock company, it promised its participants a portion of the profits from the farm in exchange for performing an equal share of the work. Brook Farmers believed that by sharing the workload, ample time would be available for leisure activities and intellectual pursuits.
Life on Brook Farm was based on balancing labor and leisure while working together for the benefit of the greater community. Each member could choose to do whatever work they found most appealing and all were paid equally, including women. Revenue for the community came from farming and from selling handmade products like clothing as well as through fees paid by the many visitors to Brook Farm. The main source of income was the school, which was overseen by Mrs. Ripley. A pre-school, primary school, and a college preparatory school attracted children internationally and each child was charged for his or her education. Adult education was also offered.
The community was never financially stable and had difficulty profiting from its agricultural pursuits. By 1844, the Brook Farmers adopted a societal model based on the socialist concepts of Charles Fourier and began publishing The Harbinger as an unofficial journal promoting Fourierism. Following his vision, the community members began building an ambitious structure called the Phalanstery. When the uninsured building was destroyed in a fire, the community was financially devastated and never recovered. It was fully closed by 1847. Despite the experimental commune's failure, many Brook Farmers looked back on their experience positively. Critics of the commune included Charles Lane, founder of another utopian community called Fruitlands. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a founding member of Brook Farm, though he was not a strong adherent of the community's ideals. He later fictionalized his experience in his novel The Blithedale Romance (1852).
After the community's failure, the property was operated for most of the next 130 years by a Lutheran organization as first an orphanage, and then a treatment center and school. The buildings of the Transcendentalists were destroyed by fire over the years. In 1988 the State of Massachusetts acquired 148 acres (60 ha) of the farm, which is now operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as a historic site. Brook Farm was one of the first sites in Massachusetts to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and be designated a National Historic Site. In 1977, the Boston Landmarks Commission designated Brook Farm a Landmark, the city's highest recognition for historic sites.
Brook Farm Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.