Cogswell's Grant was the summer home of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, preeminent collectors of American decorative arts in the mid 20th century. Through her research and innumerable publications, Mrs. Little charted new areas of American folk art (which she preferred to call "country arts"), such as decorative painting, floor coverings, boxes, and New England pottery. In 1937, the Littles purchased this 18th-century farmhouse overlooking the Essex River as a family retreat and place to entertain. They restored it carefully, trying to preserve original 18th-century finishes and carefully documenting their work. In more than 50 years of collecting, they sought works of strong, even quirky character, and in particular favored objects with their original finishes and New England histories. They decorated the house for visual delight rather than historic accuracy. The result is rich in atmosphere and crowded with collections of things—primitive paintings, redware, painted furniture, stacked Shaker boxes, weather vanes, and decoys—that have since come to define the country look.
The house offers tours.