Mission and History

Mission

The Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The Project achieves this mission through the integration of conservation, education, research and advocacy.

Founded in 1990 by recording artist Don Henley, the Project uses the land it has protected in Walden Woods to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility, both cornerstones of Thoreau’s philosophy.

Conservation:

Preserving and protecting the landscapes of Walden Woods and Thoreau Country in recognition of their worldwide literary, historical and environmental significance, and their capacity to motivate others to identify, study and protect the Waldens that exist in their own communities.

Education:

Providing innovative programs built on the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau and grounded in the land and historic resources of Walden Woods and Thoreau Country; programs that foster environmental literacy and social responsibility among students, educators and lifelong learners in the United States and around the world.

Research:

Maintaining the rich collections housed in the archives and library at the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute for scholars, educators, students and life-long learners to advance their understanding of the literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau.

Advocacy:

The Walden Woods Project advocates for the preservation of historic Walden Woods and Thoreau Country in Concord and Lincoln, Massachusetts, and for the broader, global environment.
 
 

Historical Timeline of The Walden Woods Project

  • 1990

    Walden Woods Project Founded

    The Walden Woods Project is founded by recording artist Don Henley.
  • 1991

    Bear Garden Hill acquired

    The Walden Woods Project buys the 25 acre site known as Bear Garden Hill.
  • 1993
    Thoreau quotation, If I am not I, who will be? carved into granite stone

    Brister’s Hill acquired

    The Walden Woods Project buys the 18.6 acre site known as Brister's Hill, protecting it permanently from development. "Thoreau's Path on Brister Hill" is dedicated by Don Henley, Executive Director Kathi Anderson and Congressman Marty Meehan.
  • 1994

    Thoreau Institute

    The Walden Woods Project buys an 18-acre site, built by Boston philanthropist Henry Lee Higginson. The acquisition includes a turn-of-the-century estate listed on The National Register of Historic Places that now houses the Project’s administrative offices and the Thoreau Institute.
  • 1996

    Fairhaven Hill acquired

    The Project purchases the 10-acre Fairhaven Hill site in Walden Woods.
  • 1997

    Walden Woods Project moves to Lincoln

    The Walden Woods Project’s headquarters move from Boston to Lincoln, Massachusetts.
  • 1998

    Thoreau Institute Opens

    The Thoreau Institute officially opens.
  • 2001

    Conservation land along Sudbury River gifted

    The Walden Woods Project receives a gift of a conservation easement for 41-acres of land along the “wild and scenic” Sudbury River.
  • 2002

    Time Warner funds Brister’s Hill improvements

    With a $1.25 million grant from Time Warner, planning commences for ecological restoration and an interpretive trail on historic Brister’s Hill.
  • 2004

    Bilodeau land near Bear Garden Hill acquired

    The Project purchases a 6-acre agricultural site in Walden Woods, the Bilodeau land near Bear Garden Hill.
  • 2005

    Adams Carriage House acquired

    The historic Adams carriage house purchased by the Project, thereby preserving 5 acres of conservation land and acquiring additional facilities for the programs offered by the Institute
  • 2006

    The Farm at Walden Woods acquired

    The Project purchases The Farm at Walden Woods (formerly named Pine Tree Farm) thereby protecting 9 acres of prime farmland that will remain in agriculture.
  • Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill opens

    The self-guided interpretive trail, located on historic Brister's Hill, is officially dedicated in a ceremony including such dignitaries as Senator Edward Kennedy, Representative John Lewis, and Arun Gandhi. Thoreau's Path interprets the site, which was threatened with commercial development, using Thoreau's own words incised in granite. Visit the trail here.
  • 2007

    Adams House acquired

    The Walden Woods Project acquires the Adams House (formerly the stable building of the Higginson Estate). This acquisition includes 3,800 sq. ft. of additional space for the Project and nearly 2 acres of conservation land.
  • 2009

    Conservation Restriction purchased on Fairhaven Hill

    The Walden Woods Project, in partnership with the Concord Land Conservation Trust, purchases a conservation restriction over 9.71 acres on Fairhaven Hill.
  • 2010

    Live Deliberately Essay Contest launched

    The Live Deliberately Essay Contest is launched.  The annual contest invites youth ages 13-21 from around the world to submit thoughtful reflections on a selected Thoreau quotation.
  • 2011

    Handicapped “Assessed” Loop added

    A “Handicap Assessed” loop trail is established at the Walden Wood Project’s Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill, making the first accessible trail in Concord.
  • 2012
    Image of statue

    Global Environmental Leadership Award established

    The Walden Woods Project establishes the Global Environmental Leadership Award, which “recognizes significant achievement in the areas of climate stability, biodiversity, natural resource stewardship, human understanding, and global environmental policy.” The inaugural recipient is President William Clinton.
  • 2013

    “Bench By The Road” honors Brister Freeman

    The Walden Woods Project partners with the Toni Morrison Society, placing a “Bench By The Road,” honoring Brister Freeman, along Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill.
  • 2014
    Robert Redford accepts Global Environmental Leadership Award

    Robert Redford awarded second Global Environmental Leadership Award

    The second Global Environmental Leadership Award is presented to Robert Redford. A third parcel is purchased at The Farm at Walden Woods, including three additional acres for agriculture and buildings that expand the organization’s educational and functional capabilities at The Farm.
  • 2015

    25th Anniversary

    On April 25th, the Walden Woods Project celebrates its 25th anniversary.