SO NAMED for the multitude of apple trees growing on the surrounding land, Orchard House was the home of Louisa May Alcott between 1858 and 1877. She lived there with her parents, Amos Bronson and Abigail May Alcott, and two of her three sisters, as one of her younger sisters, Elizabeth, had died from scarlet fever only weeks before the family moved to their new home. It was in this house that Louisa penned her most famous novel, Little Women, and it also served as the setting for her semi-autobiographical narrative.
Prior to purchasing Orchard House, the Alcott family moved frequently, but having lived in Concord previously, they were already acquainted with their neighbours, who included authors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The land originally contained two houses, but Bronson undertook significant renovations on the property, combining the houses into one and adding various nooks and alcoves to the rooms. Since that time, however, few structural renovations have been carried out, and so the house remains much as it was during the Alcotts’ time in residence.
In going to Orchard House, visitors experience a parallel window into the lives of the Alcott and March families. With its focus on domestic happenings in the March household, Little Women’s fictionalised version of Orchard House is a centre of stability for a series of events that would have taken place in a variety of locations. There is an intimacy in the descriptions of the girls warming their mother’s slippers and preparing the fire, which can be seen in the house’s study, and Jo’s need for a space in which to write is echoed in Louisa’s own study, where her father built her a desk and bookcase that remain on display to the present day.
On the same plot of land as Orchard House stands the Concord School of Philosophy, a centre for adult education founded by the Alcott family and their literary neighbours. It continues to host academic events in line with the founders’ interests and objectives throughout the summer months each year.
Physical address: 399 Lexington Road, Concord, MA 01742, USA
Phone number: +1 978 369 4118
Business hours: November 1 – March 31: Monday – Friday, 11:00 – 3:00, Saturday, 10:00 – 4:30, Sunday, 1:00 – 4:30
April 1 – October 31: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:30, Sunday, 1:00 – 4:30
Closed: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, December 31 & January 1. Open at 12 noon on Patriots’ Day (3rd Monday in April)
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