Massachusetts Releases List of Greatest Places, and Brandeis Is Included!

After a year of accepting submissions, the Massachusetts’ legislature’s 1,000 Great Places Commission has released its report of the best locations in the state.  That’s not exactly an exclusive list considering that Massachusetts has only 351 cities and towns, but it’s still nice to see that one of these Great Places is found on our very own campus.  Condolances to all those who hoped to see Reitman Hall honored, because our winner is none other than the Rose Art Museum.

That’s right.  Brandeis’s Great Place is the very spot the Board of Trustees wanted to get rid of.  And how many frickin’ buildings does Carl Shapiro have to buy before he gets his own Great Place?

Waltham is actually very well represented on the list; in addition to the Rose, four other Waltham sites earned recognition.  They are:

  • Gore Place — The “Monticello of the North”, once home to former Massachusetts Governor Christopher Gore and currently hosting an active farm.
  • Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation — Located in what were the engine and boiler rooms of Francis Cabot Lowell’s textile factory, which was named the fourth most important development to shape America by Life magazine in 1976.
  • The Robert Treat Paine Estate — Also known as Stonehurst, a house designed by famous architects Henry Hobson Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted that serves as one of the earliest examples of modern architecture.
  • The Lyman Estate — Built in 1793 by a Boston merchant, now includes a greenhouse complex that contains exotic plants from around the world.

I’ve often heard that the typical Brandeis student doesn’t have much connection to the Waltham community (the awesome work of the Waltham Group and Clubs in Service program notwithstanding).  I know I don’t; I’ve hardly seen any of Waltham besides the BranVan route.  So I’m going to take this as an opportunity to get acquainted with some of the local history and culture.  Over the next semester, I want to arrange trips to see each of our five honorees (including a walk-through of the Rose), and I hope anyone who’s interested will join me.  Each site is open to the public (a condition of being named on the list), and each is less than three-and-a-half miles from the Brandeis campus — we’ll make them bike trips.

If anyone has any other great ideas for exploring Waltham, share them in the comments.  If you want to help plan these trips, or just want to know when they’re scheduled, send me an e-mail at