Opening Our Doors to Hundreds of Visitors

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Inspired. Revitalized. Gobsmacked.
And, above all, grateful.

These are a few of the responses by recent visitors to what they are seeing and learning at the Mary Baker Eddy Historic Houses stewarded by Longyear Museum and in the company of our hospitable and knowledgeable guides. More than admiration of Longyear’s attention to detail—or what one visitor described as the “21st-century excellence” of our exhibits and interpretation—an underlying theme of their comments is that of a deeper appreciation of Mrs. Eddy’s labor and mission for mankind.

Historic Newton tour visitors at 400 Beacon Street listen in eagerly as 400 Beacon St. Site Manager Chris Rankin leads them through the restored house.

In the words of a participant on our four-day house tour this spring, the “beautifully thought-through” experience enabled visitors “to see beyond the houses themselves to the consciousness of [T]ruth that was growing” in Mrs. Eddy over the course of her life.

Having just reopened after a years-long restoration, Mrs. Eddy’s final residence in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, has drawn the largest number of visitors among the eight historic houses. (Tours of 400 Beacon Street can now be conveniently reserved online!)

The steady stream of visitors began in March, with a spring-break group of students from Principia College. Around the same time, we also hosted staff from Christian Science nursing facilities. And, as of mid-May, that stream has become a veritable river of visitors….

In collaboration with our local historical society, Longyear participated in the May 19 Historic Newton House Tour, welcoming nearly 200 guests to the Chestnut Hill property. A couple of weeks later, in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, special preview tours drew more than 225 guests from around the United States and the world. And, since the official opening of 400 Beacon Street on June 14 we’ve had dozens of ongoing inquiries and reservations, in addition to hosting neighbors and former contractors and construction teams for open houses.

Also in June, we hosted 33 guests on the four-day “Mary Baker Eddy’s New England” tour, which visits all eight historic houses and other sites relating to Mrs. Eddy’s history in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, such as the State House and First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Concord, New Hampshire, as well as The Mother Church in Boston.

Another interesting aspect of this year’s visits are a handful of special-interest tours of 400 Beacon Street facilitated by some of the professionals who worked with Longyear on the restoration. They have brought along fellow-architects and preservation specialists, as well as senior staff of Historic New England, the oldest and largest regional heritage organization in the nation.

In surveys completed by Historic Newton visitors to 400 Beacon Street—the majority of whom had limited to no familiarity with Mrs. Eddy or Christian Science—almost all participants said they would recommend the tour to friends and family. And a large proportion indicated they  would be interested in visiting other Mary Baker Eddy Historic Houses and Longyear Museum.

Taken collectively, the visitor responses are an encouraging sign that the collection of historic houses is helping forward Longyear’s aim of advancing public awareness and understanding of Mrs. Eddy’s life and accomplishments.

You, too, can help forward our mission by becoming a Longyear member—or making a gift.