– RUTH RAWLINGS MOTT
s the story goes, Charles Stewart Mott—ever pragmatic—told Ruth Mott that after he passed away, she would be free to dispose of Applewood as she pleased, even tear it down if that were her desire.
But Ruth Mott was a woman of vision. It was Mrs. Mott who was inspired to restore Applewood as a place of beauty and who was responsible for Applewood’s rebirth as an open community resource and lasting tribute to C.S. Mott’s wide-reaching legacy.
Today, the Ruth Mott Foundation preserves and maintains the historic Applewood Estate, where it designs, delivers, and supports community programs to encourage community vitality.
Since its centennial celebration in 2016, Applewood has been open to the public free of charge four days a week from May through October. Applewood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, providing public garden and house tours and hosting workshops, trainings, field trips, programs, convenings, and public events that included Savor the Summer, detailed in the video below.
he estate’s beautiful surroundings weave together the Mott family’s past and present dedication to serving the needs of the community. In that tradition, staff offer their expertise in grantmaking, horticulture, history, and other areas to residents and organizations both at Applewood and in the community.
Overall in 2017-18, Applewood saw a total of nearly 68,000 on-site visits or off-site interactions in the community, mostly in the Foundation’s north Flint focus area. In addition to events, staff presented hands-on sessions on a variety of topics designed to share in-house expertise and engage residents in their neighborhoods. Regularly held programming included monthly Bring Your Lunch & Learn workshops and weekly Storytime at Applewood.
t Applewood, a staff of horticulturists support the design and continuous maintenance of the estate’s extensive gardens and landscape, which provide beauty and a site for public programming. Meanwhile the collections & education staff preserve and provide access to the historic collections and archives while also developing educational programs and events that share the Mott family legacy.
In the community, the horticulture staff provided technical assistance to a number of north Flint organizations, including Eastside Franklin Park and the King Avenue PLUS Peace Garden. They facilitated and assisted with workshops for community members, including orchard care, and partnered with the Center for Community Progress and north Flint organizations on the Transforming Vacant Lots Workshop Series designed to help residents reclaim vacant lots in their neighborhoods. The collections & education staff also provided technical assistance with a number of north Flint organizations, including the Urban Renaissance Center, the inaugural Heritage & Harmony festival designed to promote civic hope and pride in the historic Civic Park Neighborhood, and the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council’s Tales from the Hood events.
he Taste of Applewood program continued in 2017-18, providing every visitor an opportunity to taste something grown on the estate. The fruit harvests included plums, tart cherries, pears, peaches, apples, and crabapples. Applewood’s Demonstration Garden produced a variety of herbs and vegetables, and the produce that wasn’t used for tastings was processed for future programming or donated to local nonprofits primarily in north Flint.
The “Share Your Story” initiative debuted in 2017 to collect personal stories that highlight the community’s connections to the Mott family, Applewood, and Flint. The “Applewood on the Road” trailer, launched in 2018, includes a mobile recording studio to aid in collecting these stories. The stories will help preserve and record history, compile feedback, and share anecdotes with the community. All the stories will be archived at Applewood, and a selection are posted online.
Of course, this work would not have been possible without the Ruth Mott Foundation’s 100-plus dedicated volunteers who collectively provided 13,156 volunteer hours at Applewood in 2017-18. Their commitment to assisting with horticulture, collections, learning, visitor experience, and events is remarkable and we are grateful they chose Applewood.
To learn more about Applewood, visit www.RuthMottFoundation.org.