The earliest sections of the Thomas Pellet House, off Monument Square and across from the First Parish Church in Concord, date to 1670. The house has had a number of additions, much of the present structure being completed by early in the eighteenth century. The brick house is notable for its stuccoed facade, intended to imitate stonework and most likely added when Benjamin Barrett owned the house in the 1730s. The house was later the home of Dr. Ezekiel Brown, a surgeon in the Revolutionary War. In the nineteenth century, the house became known as the Deacon Tolman or Old Tolman House, after owner Elisha Tolman, who had a shoe shop next door. Another owner was Thomas Heald, a lawyer and member of the Concord Social Circle. Harriett Lothrop, who wrote the Five Little Peppers stories under the name Margaret Sidney, lived in the famous Wayside in Concord and saved a number of historic houses in town in the later nineteenth century, including the Old Tolman House. In 1909, the Old Concord Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution bought the house, which they furnished and maintained, sometimes renting its rooms. They had a public tea room in the house in the 1910s and in 1929 they built an annex to use as a meeting hall. The house was sold in 1951 and the furniture was auctioned. The exterior of the house has recently been renovated, with colonial era style plank frame windows and restored exterior horsehair and wood lathe stucco plaster.
Adjacent to Orchard House (the home of A. Bronson Alcott and his family) is a building, designed and built by Alcott himself in 1880, which was originally called the Hillside Chapel and is known today as the Concord School of Philosophy. This school, which was organized by Alcott and operated from 1879 to 1888, was modeled on Plato’s Academy as series of of summer lectures for adults, with notable speakers and discussions of philosophy. For the first year, the sessions were held in Orchard House, but the following year and thereafter, the school met in Alcott’s Hillside Chapel. The school’s final meeting, in 1888, commemorated Alcott, who had died that year. Today, the building is part of the Orchard House museum. Read More
Wright Tavern, on Lexington Road in Concord, was built in 1747 by Ephraim Jones, who operated it until 1751. Standing in the center of town, it was a popular gathering place for Concord’s leading citizens. For five days in October 1774, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress met in the First Parish Church, next door, and the committees of the Congress met in the Tavern. In 1775, the Tavern was managed by Amos Wright. On the morning of the Battle of April 19, the Concord minutemen assembled at the Tavern. Later that day, the British force, under Maj. John Pitcairn, arrived and the British officers were served at the Tavern. The First Parish Unitarian Church of Concord now owns the building, which, since 1997, has been the Wright Tavern Center for Spiritual Renewal.
The Colonial Inn in Concord is on Monument Square. The Inn consists of three connected structures. The original East House (above), was built sometime before 1716 by Captain James Minot and deeded in that year to his son, James, Jr. The house passed to James Jr.’s son, Ephraim, and then to a cousin, Dr. Timothy Minot, Jr., a physician who tended to the wounded on April 19,1775. Some time in early 1770s, the Central Building (below) was constructed, which was used as a storehouse during the Revolution. This structure was purchased by Deacon John White in 1780 to use as a store (he added the second floor). In 1789, Dr. Minot sold the East House to Ammi White, his son-in-law and a cabinet-maker, who had killed a wounded British soldier with an axe on April 19, 1775. The very next year, White sold the house to John Thoreau, grandfather of Henry David Thoreau. John Thoreau’s wife, Rebecca Kettel, was the sister of the Deacon’s wife. Around 1820, Deacon White built the West House onto the end of his store and the eventually both the house and store was acquired by his partner, Daniel Shattuck. The young Henry David Thoreau lived in the East House with his family and his aunts from 1835 to 1837. Shattuck acquired the East House in 1839, which was leased to various tenants over the years. By the 1850s, the Central Building had become a boarding house and was then attached to the East House to become the Thoreau House hotel. Around 1900, the West House was attached to the Central Building and the entire structure became known as the Colonial Inn.
Concord’s first church congregation was gathered in 1636 in Cambridge, with its first meetinghouse being constructed in Concord soon after (opposite the current church) on Lexington Road. This was replaced by the second meetinghouse, built between 1667 and 1673, and the third, built in 1711. This third church was rotated in 1741 to face the road, but burned down in 1900. It was therefore replaced by the current church, completed in 1901, which reproduced its predecessor as much as possible. During the ministry of Ezra Ripley (1778-1841), the congregation moved away from the traditional Puritan Calvinist doctrines and became Unitarian. Henry David Thoreau signed-off from membership in the church in 1841; his funeral services were later held there. Ralph Waldo Emerson affirmed his membership in 1865. Today, the First Parish in Concord is a Unitarian Universalist church.
The Town of Concord’s first Town House, used for “town meetings and the county courts 1721-1794,” was located across the town green from the location of the current Town House. In the nineteenth century, the town would continue to share a building with the courts, until a fire destroyed the courthouse in 1849 and the town’s privilege to use it’s replacement was not renewed. A new structure was therefore built specifically for town use in the Italianate style, designed by the Boston architect Richard Bond, who also designed Boston’s Lewis Wharf and Salem’s City Hall. Called a “town house,” it contained not only a town hall, but originally also housed Concord’s first public library and school classrooms. Later, the building would be used for strictly municipal functions. An addition was added to the rear in 1879-80.
The famous house in Concord known as the “Old Manse,” has associations with the Revolutionary War and with two of America’s greatest literary figures. It was built in 1770 as a “manse”, or parsonage, for the town’s minister, William Emerson. Emerson was there, on April 19, 1775, when the Revolutionary War began at the Old North Bridge, located just behind the Manse property (and now part of Minute Man National Historical Park). Emerson went on to serve as a chaplain with the Continental Army, but died of a fever in October 1776, during the Fort Ticonderoga Expedition. In 1778, Ezra Ripley became Concord’s new minister. He boarded at the Old Manse and in 1780 married William Emerson’s widow, Phebe Bliss Emerson. William Emerson’s son, also named William, became a minister. His son was the famous Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived in the Old Manse, his ancestral home, from 1834-1835, before purchasing his own house in Concord. It was during his residence in the Old Manse that Emerson wrote the first draft of his classic work, Nature.
Ezra Ripley died in 1841 and from 1842 to 1845, the Old Manse was rented by Nathaniel Hawthorne and his new wife, Sophia Peabody. It was during this period that Hawthorne would write many of the stories featured in his collection, Mosses from an Old Manse, including his introductory description of the Old Manse that would help make the building famous. In 1846, the Hawthorne’s left the Manse because Ezra Ripley’s son, Samuel Ripley, returned to live in his childhood home, although he died the following year. His wife, Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley, who had mastered numerous subjects and seven languages, lived on for another two decades, exchanging views with many of the intellectual leaders of the times. She lived through the Civil War, which claimed the life of her younger son, Lt. Ezra Ripley.
When Sarah and Samuel Ripley’s granddaughter, Sarah Ripley Thayer Ames, died in 1939, according to her wishes the house and its contents were sold to The Trustees of Reservations. The Old Manse is now a museum where visitors can tour this National Historic Landmark.