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.
Visit Cogswell’s Grant
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. Become a member.
Location and directions
60 Spring Street
Essex, Mass. 01929
Directions detail: From Route 128, take Exit 15, turn onto School Street towards Essex and follow to junction with Route 133. Turn left on Route 133 west (Main St.), bear right at intersection of Route 22, then turn right onto Spring Street and follow to the end.
Parking: There is ample free parking at the site.
Contact Cogswell’s Grant
Contact Cogswell’s Grant by e-mail.
More about Cogswell’s Grant
Collections on Display
Everyone's History Project: From Clam Flats to Clam Shacks
Member Discounts on the North Shore
Frequently Asked Questions
Reproductions for Sale
Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little Papers