Orchard House was purchased by the Transcendentalist philosopher and teacher Amos Bronson Alcott in 1857 for his family, Abigail May and their daughters Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth and May. It was here in 1868 that Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, as well as numerous other books, short stories and poems. While Orchard House served as the fictional setting for Little Women, it is interesting to note that the March family adventures in this semi-autobiographical account did not take place here, but occurred next-door in Wayside, now owned by the National Park Service.
Orchard House, which was lived in by the Alcott family for 20 years, was a gathering place for many of the intellectuals of Concord and Boston, as well as the world. It was here that Bronson, a writer himself, founded the Concord Summer School of Philosophy in 1879, later holding classes for adult learners from the rustic building behind the main house. In fact, while Louisa is the best known writer in the Alcott family, they all wrote in forms ranging from private journals, to letters, poems, books and plays.
Orchard House-Home of the Alcotts
399 Lexington Road
Concord, MA 01742
Hours: April- October: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 - 4:30; Sunday, 1:00 - 4:30. November - March: Monday - Friday, 11:00 - 3:00; Saturday, 10:00 - 4:30; Sunday 1:00 - 4:30
The Literary Trail guided tour stops here and admission fees are included in the guided tour price.
The Wayside, Minuteman National Historical Park
The quaint old Wayside is renowned as the home of three literary families-Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriett Lothrop. Wayside is the first literary site taken into the U.S. National Park Service. The home was the sole residence that Hawthorne-author of such classics as The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables-ever owned. Hawthorne purchased the home from the Alcott family who had called it "Hillside" named for the steep embankment behind the house. It was here that many of the childhood events Louisa May Alcott described in Little Women, including her amateur play performances, took place. Once purchased by the Hawthorne family they renamed the home "Wayside," as it continues to be known today.
The home is preserved as a museum thanks to the efforts of its third literary owner, Harriett Stone Lothrop, who forged her own literary reputation as Margaret Sidney, creator of the Five Little Peppers children's book series in the early 20th century. Today, visitors can view that many additions and changes to this colonial farmhouse that each successive literary owner made to the structure. These include Bronson Alcott's addition of wings and porches, Hawthorne's second story and vaulted tower study which contains his writing desk, as well as lovely murals later painted in tribute to Hawthorne and a piazza added during the Lothrop's tenure.
455 Lexington Road
Concord, MA 01742
Hours: May - October: Thursday-Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.