Our last stop on our Boston Christmas vacation was Concord. Oh, how I loved visiting Concord! Steady Eddie and I had been through Concord back seventeen years ago this past June on our honeymoon trip (ultimate destination: PEI). We had a limited amount of time on both trips, so we had to pick and choose what to see. (There is so much to see and do in Concord, especially for the history and/or literature lover!) This year our number one destination was Orchard House, but we had a few other stops to make first.
It was a cold, cold morning. We attempted to visit Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, but alas, it was frozen over. Steady Eddie even got out of the van and walked as far as he could to see if we could attempt it, but it was just too slick. Next time!
Up next was the North Bridge. We attempted to go into the museum, but it didn’t open until 11 o’clock, and we were there just after 10. Instead we ate our snack in the warmth of the van in the parking lot and then drove to an overlook where we could see the Concord River and the bridge. Steady Eddie braved the cold with all four children and walked down to the bridge for photo ops.
Next it was on to our final stop, and the one I have waited all my life to visit. 😉
(Yes, I love that door. 🙂 )
Unfortunately, as with the Dickinson home, photography was not permitted inside. I could literally stayed at Orchard House all day, though, asking questions about each and every thing in the home. It turns out that eighty percent (!!!) of the furnishings and objects in the home belonged to the Alcotts! I was astounded by that because at the Dickinson home many of the artifacts were reproductions. (This is due to the fact that the Dickinson family had no direct descendants in the area, so the house had passed to another family in the early 1900s who didn’t know the treasure they possessed until Dickinson’s poems were published later.) When the Alcotts moved, Orchard House was purchased by Margaret Sidney, author of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. She knew the treasure this house would be for future generations!
The first room we entered for the tour was May Alcott Nieriker’s little art studio. Her sketches were on the walls in this little room and her bedroom. She literally drew on the walls, and although the actual marks she made had faded over time, the impression of the sketch had been traced and could be seen. What a testimony to the Alcotts’ dedication to allowing their children to discover their gifts!
Next we moved into the kitchen, where we were able to see the well the Alcotts used for their “indoor plumbing” in the kitchen. This was discovered after the foundation of the home had to be excavated to be made sound.
The docent who led our tour pointed out while we were in the parlor that this was the actual setting for Anna Alcott Pratt’s wedding. Meg’s wedding in Little Women was modeled after Anna’s.
In May’s bedroom is a trunk that contains the actual boots , dagger, and cape that the Alcott girls used in their play-acting. (“Roderigo!”)
Visiting Louisa’s bedroom was the best part of the tour, for her bedroom was the place from which she did her writing. We saw her little half-moon desk between two of her windows. Also in her bedroom were books–both the ones she authored and ones she read. (I’m not sure that these were authentic to Alcott–they may have been collected over the years.) In her room were several paintings and drawings that May Alcott Nieriker sent her from Europe. Louisa’s income from writing Little Women enabled her to sponsor May’s artistic studies abroad. May was quite an artist! We learned that she also taught art lessons, and that Daniel Chester French, who created the Concord Minute Man (seen above), was one of her students. He went on to design and create the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.!
We ended our tour, of course, in the gift shop. I loved having all sorts of Louisa May Alcott merchandise (books, y’all–both by and about!) at my disposal.
After this, it was off for a bite of lunch. Then it was on to the airport to get settled in for our flight back to Alabama. I want to go back, both to Orchard House and to see all the other historic and literary sites in Concord that we didn’t have time for. If I had to choose one place to visit in the area, Concord would be it.
I hope to share a few more thoughts about our trip, so stay tuned.