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.
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 past 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.
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.
Last updated: February 7, 2024