William Emerson Baker (May, 1828 - January 5, 1888) was a successful American businessman and activist. Baker was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts and as a young man entered into a business partnership with Boston tailor William Grover. Together, the pair created the Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company, which produced accessibly-priced sewing machines for home use. These units were so successful that Baker retired in 1868, then just forty, already a very rich man. Upon his retirement, Baker bought nearly 800 acres of land in the southwest corner of Needham, Massachusetts. His estate became known by two names - Ridge Hill Farms and the Baker Estate. Over the course of the ensuing twenty years, Baker installed over 100 amusements, attractions, and exhibits on his estate, which included a museum of industry, two bear pits for his pets, a pleasure lake, an underground crystal grotto featuring the Forty Thieves, restaurants, saloons, and a 222-room luxury hotel. At heart, Baker was an activist. Even though his estate appeared on the surface to be simply an amusement park, each attraction served a purpose and the estate became the embodiment of Baker's personal, 'often radical and always provocative', opinions. Baker even opened what he dubbed a 'Sanitary Piggery' on his estate in an effort to convince society that cleanly-produced food and public sanitation could help eliminate disease (a radical notion at the time). The pigs in the 'Sanitary Piggery' were kept in strictly clean conditions and fed wholesome food. There were even rumors that each pig was provided with a bed and silk sheets! After Baker's death in 1888, his wife sold Ridge Hill Farms. There were efforts to keep the attractions up and running, but fires and lack of funds eventually led to their closure. Today, the land is mostly residential lots, leaving few traces of Baker's 'Fairyland of the Beautiful and Bizarre.'

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