Just Folk

A hidden-away, world-class folk-art collection



he house built in 1728 by a man named Jonathan Cogswell on land that had been granted to his great-grandfather almost 100 years earlier looks like nothing more special than an old farmhouse from the outside, but that facade conceals one of the nation’s most important collections of folk art, acquired over 50 years by former longtime Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities director Bertram Fletcher and his wife, Nine, who bought Cogswell’s Grant in 1937 as a summer home. The collection includes primitive paintings, painted furniture, Shaker boxes, weathervanes and decoys.



John Cogswell, grandfather of the man who built the house at Cogswell’s Grant, sailed for New England in 1635 with his wife and eight children, but was shipwrecked off Pemaquid Point, Maine, and Cogswell had to start from scratch, without his furniture, cattle, and money. Two generations later, one of his descendants would head up the second-wealthiest family in Essex County.