Food & Agriculture

Celebrating Appleton Farms through Preservation

Now in its 25th year as a Trustees property, Appleton Farms has also been a story of preservation success.

May is Preservation Month, so we wanted to share some images of our preservation work at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, which is now celebrating 25 years as a Trustees property!

Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operated farm in America and among the most influential in America’s agricultural history. It was also home to nine generations of Appletons ­- from 17th century English emigrant Samuel Appleton to 20th century lawyer Francis R. Appleton, Jr. – who loved their bucolic Ipswich farm. In addition to 1,000 acres with numerous buildings and structures, the property came to us with an enormous collection of objects and archives that helps tell the Appleton family’s story.

It took a lot of planning, patience and expertise, as well as the dedicated help of many volunteers, but a tremendous amount of progress has been made. The Farmhouse, historically known as the Old House and pictured above before and after preservation work was done, is a prime example of that. What had once been an empty, decaying structure is now a LEED-certified building where cooking programs and staff offices share space with historic collections.

Jimmy’s Barn, pictured above, was rehabilitated and now houses a thriving CSA program and Farm Store. The Carriage House was renovated to host events, education programs, and the farm’s camp, as well as animals, equipment and the Appleton’s tack room.

The Grass Rides pinnacles, stone structures from Gore Hall at Harvard University which were given to the Appletons and are now memorials to family members, have been stabilized and conserved. Dozens of family portraits and historic prints have been conserved by specialists. And some 68 boxes of archival materials – including a rare collection of presidential signatures – are now catalogued, rehoused and stored at our Archives & Research Center in Sharon. These are just a few of the major projects that have transformed Appleton Farms under the care of The Trustees.

See below for some additional preservation project before and after photos:


Stained glass window in the Old House, before and after preservation work. F.R.A. is Francis Randall Appleton, one of the most influential family members to own the farm.

Memorial plaque dedicated to Charles Lanier Appleton, found at the stone pinnacle in the middle of the Grass Rides, placed there in his honor, before and after preservation work.

A fireback from one of the Appleton family fireplaces, also one of the oldest pieces in our Appleton collection. Now restored, it is on display in the parlor of the Old House with other Appleton family artifacts.

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