Last updated: November 14, 2022
The Wayside: Home of Authors, circa 1700
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Over more than three hundred years, The Wayside and its families witnessed and influenced both Concord's and America's recorded history. Early occupants of the house 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, and other authors such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville, began 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 run-away slave 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.
Learn more about the history of The Wayside and its amazing occupants!