The Abandoned Utopia of Brook Farm - Atlas Obscura

Boston, Massachusetts

The Abandoned Utopia of Brook Farm

Explore the site of a famous 19th-century transcendentalist utopian community, now abandoned.

Located alongside an orphan's cemetery, the former site of Brook Farm commemorates the most famous utopian commune ever to have operated in the United States. 

Established in West Roxbury in April 1841 by the transcendentalists George and Sophia Ripley, Brook Farm (also known as the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education) sought to equally distribute the tasks of daily life while providing education for all participants; the end goal was a balance of work and leisure that would, above all, benefit the greater good. Unfortunately, turning a profit from the farm's agricultural surplus proved unrealistic, and Brook Farm was forced to shutter in 1847.

Nonetheless, the experiment at Brook Farm played a key role in the development of American religious and cultural philosophy. During its heyday, the commune was home to some of America's most renowned thinkers of the period, including Charles Anderson Dana, Greeley, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne would ultimately set his novel The Blithedale Romance in a utopian community modeled after Brook Farm.

This Obscura Day, join three scholars of utopian communities and the literature of New England from the Brandeis University English Department to walk through what is left of the site. This event will give you a chance to explore what remains of the farm, while attempting to convey a sense of its residents' daily life—and their ambitious dreams.

Capacity is limited; RSVP required!


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