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Harvard is a well preserved rural community with an interesting history extending back to 1732 when the town was incorporated. Throughout its 250 years, the town has been known for a series of unusual sociological and religious experiments. The most well know of these were carried out by Mother Ann Lee, who came to live in Harvard in 1781 and founded a Shaker village, still to be seen today, and Bronson Alcott, who carried out a transcendental experiment in living with his family and friends here in 1843. The farmhouse where the Alcotts lived was called Fruitlands and is now part of the Fruitlands Museum on Prospect Hill. Residents enjoy the intimacy of a small town, with its Fourth of July parade, Apple Blossom Festival and many other events, the majority of which take place in the vicinity of the historic town common. Another amenity is Bare Hill Pond, a 330-acre lake where swimming, sailing and canoeing lessons are offered in the summer and cross country skiing and skating take place in winter. There are over 2,000 acres of conservation land throughout the town, much of it interconnected to offer walking trails. Acquisition of wetlands, especially along the Bowers Brook greenway has also been a municipal priority. The school system in Harvard, which is an individual not a regional school district, has the highest rating in Worcester County and is considered the major reason why many families with young children choose to live in Harvard. Bromfield High School graduates are accepted at a variety of prestigious colleges all across the country. A major school building program was completed in 1991, resulting in a new elementary school and an auditorium and other improvements for Bromfield High. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Harvard had 12,329 residents in 1990. This figure includes the population of Fort Devens that reside in that portion of the Fort that is in Harvard. The Town, however, does not provide any service to this area and thus considers its population to be 5,047.
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