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The Thoreau Institute is the headquarters for the Walden Woods Project, and also a library and center for research and education. Work at the Thoreau Institute focuses on Henry David Thoreau’s literary achievements, philosophy and his influence on the environmental and social movements of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The campus is comprised of three primary structures situated on twenty-two acres of conservation land in the heart of Walden Woods. The largest building on site is the 12,000 square ft. Higginson House, which serves as the headquarters of the Walden Woods Project. The house was constructed in 1906 by the philanthropist and founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Henry Lee Higginson, as a retreat for his son. Such notable people as the founder of the Sheraton Hotel chain, Ernest Henderson, and descendants of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams have lived in the house.
The Walden Woods Project submitted the Higginson House for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It was listed in 2006. Thoreau came each year to pick huckleberries and blueberries and to visit Beech Spring on the property.
Across a courtyard is the library/archive building, a 5,000 square foot, state of art structure, built, in part, with green materials and technologies. The library and archives provide access to the most complete collection of material related to Thoreau that has ever been assembled.
The third building, the stable that was part of the original Higginson Estate, is in the design phase of renovation. This beautiful site is rich with history and symbolism, and will serve as an inspiring setting for significant programs on conservation for generations to come.
The fragrance of the apple blossom reminds me of a pure and innocent and unsophisticated country girl bedecked for church. — Journal, 17 May 1853