The Wayside - 1845-1852: The Alcott Years

"Louisa's youth was spent in what is now called 'The Wayside,' and where she lived 'Little Women;' its pranks and pleasures; its trials and deprivations." - Harriett Lothrop

Bronson and Abby Alcott had been married fifteen years when "Hillside" became the first home that they owned.

The actual purchasers of the house from Horatio Cogswell were Samuel Sewall, a cousin of Mrs. Alcott, and the Rev. Samuel J. May, her brother.They were acting as Trustees under the will of Mrs. Alcott's father, Colonel Joseph May.This arrangement was designed to protect the home from the many creditors of Bronson Alcott, who was heavily in debt.

The Alcotts made major changes to the house and land, adding terracing to the hill behind the house, a study for Bronson, and bedrooms for Anna and for Louisa, who had longed desired privacy and a place to write. Dire fiscal straits forced the family to depend on the generosity of friends like Ralph Waldo Emerson. Their continuing financial hardship finally compelled the Alcotts to return to Boston in 1848, where Abby found employment as a City Missionary.

Last updated: May 24, 2016

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