A Look Back

On May 21, 1891, Massachusetts Governor William Eustis Russell signed into law an act which established The Trustees for Public Reservations “for the purpose of acquiring, holding, arranging, maintaining and opening to the public, under suitable regulations, beautiful and historical places and tracts of land within this Commonwealth.”

The birth of the Trustees had not happened simply as a government act—it had been the passion and work of one man for more than a year. Charles Eliot, a young landscape architect, had begun campaigning to create an organization that could do something to address the possibility that historic and beautiful places and open spaces could someday be lost or diminished.

Driven by the disturbing visions of a rapidly industrialized Boston, Eliot saw a solution and submitted two letters to the editors of the preeminent landscape journal Garden and Forest stating his case and outlining his plan. Inspired by the recent creation of the Boston Public Library and Museum of Fine Arts, he believed an incorporated association of citizens could “hold small and well-distributed parcels of land free of taxes, just as the Public Library holds books and the Art Museum pictures—for the use and enjoyment of the public.”

Now, 125 years later, the 114 special places throughout Massachusetts that form The Trustees continue to bring together lovers of nature and history. Like our founder, we believe in the power of nature to heal the soul and fuel the spirit. And by sharing, celebrating, and caring for these special places, together we plant the seeds for the “successive generations” which Eliot first wrote about. Today, we are that generation and we must now pass on to future generations the places, stories, and ideas that we were given.

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© 2016 The Trustees | 125th Anniversary Media Kit