Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd, Harvard, MA 01451
Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Clara Endicott Sears (December 16, 1863 – March 25, 1960) was a New England author, preservationist, and philanthropist. Though she was beautiful and prized for her social status, Sears thought marriage restrictive and made a pact with cousins Mary Crowinshield Endicott and Fanny Peabody Mason to never marry. Sears led an independent lifestyle, acting as her mother’s adult companion, and traveled to Europe to visit Mary, who had married and moved to England.
Sears was born to a wealthy Yankee family in Boston in 1863. Her parents were Knyvet Winthrop Sears and Mary Crowninshield Peabody. Sears was educated at private schools in Boston and by tutors in Europe. She authored several historical works as well as poetry, romantic works and popular songs for World War I. In 1910 Sears purchased a summer estate in Harvard, Massachusetts, which included the farmhouse that was part of a failed Transcendentalist community known as the Fruitlands or consociate family. After restoring the house, and collecting numerous materials, Sears opened the building as the Fruitlands Museum in 1914. Her research about the experiment brought her into contact with the last of the Harvard Shakers. When the Shaker community in Harvard closed in 1918, it was purchased by Fiske Warren a proponent for a single tax enclave. Sears bought the first building built by the Harvard Shakers, a 1794 office building from the Harvard Shaker Village from Warren and moved it to her property; it opened in 1922. Sears also worked with Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University in acquiring a Native American collection to display at the museum. Sears transferred all the museum assets to Fruitlands and the Wayside Museums, Inc., in 1930. By this time the property included about 458 acres. Also during the 1930s, she collected early 19th-century primitive portraits and built a gallery to display them in 1939. She also collected Hudson River School paintings and other America folk art for the museum. Sears was awarded a gold medal by the National Society of New England Women in 1942. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Society of Mayflower Descendants. Clara Endicott Sears died in Boston in 1960.
My published books:
BACK TO HOME PAGE