Nina Fletcher Little (1937-1984), folklorist
Interior of Cogswell's Grant
Photographs by David Bohl, courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.
In 1937, distinguished art collectors, students of American culture, and preservationists Nina and Bertram Little purchased and began to carefully restore Cogswells Grant, a rare surviving example of a 17th-century New England farm. Owned by only four families in its 300 year history, the restoration of Cogswells Grant took more than a year. After the restoration, the Littles began to use Cogswells Grant to house what eventually became an internationally known collection of early American art. Both husband and wife are well known in their fields. Bertram Little was the Director of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities for 21 years. Nina Little distinguished herself through years of carefully researched publications and seminars. Beginning in the 1930s, Nina Little published six books and more than 40 articles about early American artists, paintings, ceramics, furniture, architecture, and history. A testament to her popularity and stature, her first book, American Decorative Wall Painting: 1700-1850, has been republished three times, including a 1989 paperback version. In the introduction of the original 1952 edition, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Marshall Davidson stated that among the scholars of early American decorative arts, "I know of no one more tireless, no one who has contributed more through her field work and research than Nina Fletcher Little." In 1984, as the final chapter in a scientific, "state-of-the art" restoration that began in 1937, the Littles deeded Cogswells Grant to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, ensuring its preservation for the future.
Cogswells Grant is located at 60 Spring St. in Essex, MA. Click here for visitor information.
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