The Wayside is a house with notable literary associations in Concord, Massachusetts. It is now a part of the Minute Man National Historical Park and managed by the National Park Service.
The first record of the Wayside property occurs in 1717
Samuel Whitney was living in this house, which still retained most of its original appearance, on April 19
when British troops passed by on their way to the Battle of Lexington and Concord
at Concord's Old North Bridge
. During the years 1775 and 1776 the house was occupied by scientist John Winthrop
during the nine months when Harvard College
was moved to Concord.
In 1845, educator and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott
and his wife, Abby, purchased the home and named it "Hillside". Here Louisa May Alcott
and her sisters lived many of the scenes that later appeared in her book Little Women
, including the amateur plays they performed. The Alcotts made major changes to the house and land, adding terracing to the hill behind the house, a study for Bronson, and a bedroom for Louisa.
In 1852, author Nathaniel Hawthorne
purchased the house from the Alcotts and moved in with wife Sophia
and three young children. He renamed it "The Wayside", noting that it stood so close to the road that it could have been mistaken for a coach stop. He explained in a letter: "I think [it] a better name, and more morally suggestive than that which... Mr. Alcott... bestowed on it. While the Hawthornes were in Europe from 1853 to 1860, they leased the house to family members including Sophia's sister, Mary Peabody, who later married Horace Mann
. After Hawthorne returned to Concord in 1860, he added a second story over Alcott's west wing, enclosed the bay porch, moved the barn to the east side of the house, and constructed the three story tower on the back of the house, calling it his "sky parlor". It seems that Hawthorne was not entirely pleased with the result:
- "I have been equally unsuccessful in my architectural projects; and have transformed a simple and small old farm-house into the absurdest anomaly you ever saw; but I really was not so much to blame here as the village-carpenter, who took the matter into his own hands, and produced an unimaginable sort of thing instead of what I asked for." (January 1864)
Hawthorne died in 1864, and his heirs sold the house in 1870.
After several intermediate sales, it was again purchased in 1883 by Boston publisher Daniel Lothrop and his wife, Harriett, who wrote the Five Little Peppers
series and other children's books under the pen name Margaret Sidney
. The Lothrops added town water in 1883, central heating in 1888, and electric lighting in 1904, as well as a large piazza on the west side in 1887.
After Margaret Sidney's death in 1924, the home was inherited by her daughter; she opened the home to the public in 1927. In 1963, The Wayside was designated a National Historic Landmark
, and in 1965, with the aid of the Lothrop's daughter Margaret, it became the first literary site to be acquired by the National Park Service