This past weekend, my husband and I spent the day in Concord MA checking out some of the historic sites and houses. We went to The Old Manse, North Bridge, The Orchard House, The Wayside, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and finally the Colonial Inn. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, two books that I actually read and loved in high school. He was born in Salem and then lived in The Old Manse in Concord, moved to the Berkshires, and then came back to The Wayside in Concord. Rev. William Emerson was the first inhabitant of The Old Manse, and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived there for a time too with his grandmother. Hawthorne lived there in his first three years of marriage with his wife, Sophia Peabody.
The Old Manse from the front
The Old Manse from the riverside
The boathouse overlooking the river
Looking out to the North Bridge
We walked from The Old Manse over the North Bridge and checked out the grounds there. The original North Bridge is no longer there. I think its actually been rebuilt a couple times. April 19, 1775 was the big day, the shot heard round the world, the battle of Lexington and Concord. A few ancestors on my mother’s side, Phillip Robbins and his son Jeremiah Robbins, Sr., were there that day. Minute Man park is really beautiful, its really hard to picture the battle that actual happened there.
From here, we went to The Orchard House and The Wayside. I have read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott probably a dozen times. It is such a good story, and at this point because I have read it so many times through my life, it feels like it has become part of my story. Alcott set and wrote Little Women living in The Orchard House (1858-1877), but many scenes were inspired by earlier times living at The Wayside (called The Hillside when they lived there). The Alcott family lived at The Wayside from 1844-1848 and then rented it out until they sold it to Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852.
The Country Barn
The Orchard House
The Orchard House was cool because of the book, but I definitely fell for The Wayside .
The gorgeous piazza was added by the Lothrop family who lived there in 1887. The tower in the center of the home was added in the time that the Hawthornes lived there. Harriet Lothrop wrote the children’s book series Five Little Peppers under the pen name Margaret Sidney. The photo of the window above is actually the loft above the little barn where Louisa May Alcott and her sisters staged the plays that inspired parts of Little Women.
From here we went to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A section of the cemetery is referred to as The Author’s Ridge and thats where Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, and Thoreau are buried. A founder of WPI, George Frisbie Hoar is buried nearby, and his gravestone brought me to tears.
Thoreau Family Plot
Henry David Thoreau’s Grave
Alcott Family Plot
Louisa May Alcott’s Grave
Harriet Lothrop’s Grave
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Grave
Hawthorne Family Plot, Nathaniel is in the back left corner I believe
Here is the George Frisbie Hoar Grave.
Finally, after lots of walking it was time for a snack at The Colonial Inn. The actual building has been there since 1716 and it served as a storehouse and a hospital during the American Revolution. Room 24 was the operating room, and Room 27 was the morgue! Eek! Post-war, the hotel was a store and boarding house. Henry David Thoreau lived there from 1835-1837 while he was attending Harvard. It started operating as a hotel in the mid-19th century.
We sat outside, Jon got a 1716 Colonial Inn Ale which is made by Sam Adams for the inn, and I got a shirley temple. We had dinner plans so just grabbed a spinach artichoke dip. There are all different rooms inside the hotel for small gatherings/meeting, and multiple areas to eat. A cool spot was the Village Forge Tavern- it was dark, earthy, lots of equestrian/farrier stuff for decor….you can almost picture militia having a tankard of beer in there. It was such a beautiful day we had to be outside. Historic Concord is an amazing place to visit because while there are many sites related to the American Revolution, there are just as many sites related to the transcendental literary revolution. Next year we want to try and make it for the reenactment they do for Patriot’s Day!