SHIRLEY — Step back in time while wandering these atmospheric 89 acres and explore the 2.7 miles of trails as you breathe in the piney air from the 80 species of conifers.
Since 2011, Farnandnear has been under the care and ownership of The Trustees of Reservations and is one of the 100 preserved naturalistic properties in Massachusetts under their directorship.
This peaceful reservation includes a beaver-flooded former cranberry bog and a hemlock ravine called “Paradise.” The rustic landscape is home to coyotes, bears, deer and of course, the beavers. Wide-open spaces blend into former grazing and farmed terrain, the flooded former bog, stone walls, copses of pines and an undulating landscape in which it’s easy to get lost. The quiet encourages deep breathing and open ears as the calls from black capped chickadees, catbirds and barred owls echo gently with each footfall. (I not sure what the owls are barred from but they are.)
Local resident Dustin Rhodes was using a metal detector on Thanksgiving and he showed us that day’s finds; a palmful of old buttons and a belt buckle from the early 1800’s. He’s hoping for some early American coins and would be over the moon to locate a 1700’s Massachusetts Bay Colony shilling with its pine tree emblem in the center.
Charles Goodspeed, who lived in Wollaston, named this enclave Farandnear because with this spot being a two-day journey from Wollaston (with an overnight stay in Concord), this beloved oasis was just far enough and near enough for frequent visits and visitors. Goodspeed was the well-known owner of Goodspeed booksellers in Boston, a shop located at Beacon and Somerset Street that was in residence from 1898 to 1995.
Goodspeed’s son, Charles Eliot Goodspeed, graduated from Harvard and continued to grow the family business. The shop, and its sign of a monk reading a book, became an icon. It was famous for its astutely chosen books, manuscripts, prints, autographs and maps. The shop sold some of the first children’s books published in America. Charles Eliot died in 1995 at the age of 93. What remains of the intergenerational Goodspeed collection is in the hands of The Trustees Cultural Research Staff. “The Bookseller’s Apprentice,” published in 1996, is a page-turner of Charles Eliot’s best stories and adventures.
In 1902, Goodspeed bought the original three acres of this now expansive reservation and he and his son — and later descendant Arthur Banks — continued to add to their holdings until the parcel reached its current size. The original family cottage burned and in 1940 a two-story family home was erected. The only remaining building is the small garden shed located near the newly constructed Visitors Center Pavilion.
This past October, the new Visitors Center Pavilion was dedicated. It was designed by designLab, and along with its rustic stone fire pit, it was built by local contractors working with wood, steel and corrugated metal.