The Wayside: Home of Authors

A large wooden house painted yellow. The home is 6 bays wide. The main structure is two stories with a three story tower in the center. A large porch is attached on the left side. In the background a hillside is covered in trees.
The Wayside House

NPS Photo

Over more than three hundred years, The Wayside and its families witnessed and influenced both Concord's and America's recorded history. In 1775 the Wayside was home to Samuel Whitney the muster master for Concord's minute men and a delegate to the Provincial Congress. In the 19th century famed authors Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney (Harriet Lothrop) lived at this incredible site.

 

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Large yellow house with a tower on the back viewed from across a street with a hedge in front

The Wayside Timeline

Follow the chronological history of The Wayside from the early colonial period through its 2016 restoration and reopening.

Two sheets of paper side by side, left one blank, right with writing and antique glasses on it.

The Wayside and the Underground Railroad

When the Alcott Family lived at The Wayside they once harbored a freedom seeker escaping north to freedom.

 

Three Centuries of History and Literature

Early occupants of the Wayside included Samuel Whitney, member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1775 and muster master for Concord's minute man companies. On April 19, 1775 the house was directly mentioned by General Thomas Gage as a place to be searched for arms and supplies. Despite British soldiers marching right passed the house as they entered Concord there is no evidence they stopped and searched it. The Wayside is among the park's 11 April 19th Witness Houses.

During the 19th century a succession of authors called this house home; most notably Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. They, along with their neighbors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau joined many others such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Herman Melville to begin a literary tradition recognized as distinctly American.

  • The Alcotts, who owned the house from 1845-1852, called it "Hillside." Here Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, and her sisters lived much of the childhood described in the book.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote The Scarlet Letter, House of the Seven Gables, Twice Told Tales, and other novels and publications. He and his family owned the house from 1852 through 1869 and called it "The Wayside."

As part of the first generation to inherit the Revolution, these early writers helped shape the new nation's cultural identity even as they struggled with the Revolution's legacy and the unresolved issue of slavery. While in the house in the 1840s, the Alcott family aided at least one freedom seeker on his flight to freedom.The Wayside is now a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

In 1883 Harriett Lothrop (pen name Margaret Sidney), children's author and creator of the "Five Little Peppers," her husband Daniel and daughter Margaret lived in and preserved The Wayside for future generations. The Lothrops were the last private family to live here. In 1965, The Wayside became part of Minute Man National Historical Park and the first literary site added to the National Park Service.


 

The Authors:

 
 
Hawthorne portrait - small

Nathaniel Hawthorne:



 
 

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    Last updated: May 12, 2021

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