Saturday, November 14, 2009

Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House...

...located in Concord, MA, is where Louisa May Alcott penned "Little Women," and what a magical place to visit! Her bedroom is on the second floor, right, front side of the house. In between the two front windows is a small, half-moon shaped desk that her father built for her, and that is where history was made. Shivers run down my spine every time I've taken the tour, standing right next to the desk where this classic was written.

(click any photos to enlarge)

In June of 1857, a then 24-year old Louisa May wrote in her journal:

"Read Charlotte Bronte's life. A very interesting, but sad one. So full of talent; and after working long, just as success, love, and happiness come, she dies. Wonder if I shall ever be famous enough for people to care to read my story and struggles. I can't be a C.B., but I may do a little something yet."

A little something? Oh my goodness! She did so much, but she is probably best known for the beloved, "Little Women," first published in 1869 (twelve years after that journal entry). As you can see, I have a small collection of Little Women books..

... as well as some other books about Louisa May Alcott's life. So let me show you a bit of Orchard House (dubbed Apple Slump by Louisa May Alcott).

Unfortunately, photos are not allowed to be taken inside the house, but I'll provide a link below where you can take a virtual tour through the house on-line. And I highly recommend taking the tour in person if you are ever in the Concord area! Don't you just love the door knocker on the front of Orchard House? (It reminds me of the door knocker that morphs into Marley's ghost in "A Christms Carol"!)

Now here is a photo that I took just a couple of weeks ago....

...and here is an 1874 photograph of the house from the exact same angle, with Mr. & Mrs. Alcott in the front yard...

A plaque by the back door of the house that now leads into the gift shop.

Flowers growing outside the study window...

This is Bronson Alcott's School of Philosophy, constructed in 1879, just behind Orchard House. (Bronson is Louisa May's father.)

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I posted about Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, where all of the Alcotts are buried... (Here's Amanda at Louisa May Alcott's grave)..

Back in 1879, Louisa May wrote the following journal entry:
"October 8th Dear Marmee's birthday. Never forgotten. Lovely day....
(Alcott family plot)
...Go to Sleepy Hollow with flowers. Her grave is green, black berry vines with red leaves trail over it. A little white stone with her initials is at the head, & among the tall grass over her breast a little bird had made a nest....
Bird's nest on LMA's grave a couple of weeks ago
... Empty now, but a pretty symbol of the refuge that tender bosom always was for all feeble & sweet things. Her favorite asters bloomed all about, & the pines sang overhead. So she & dear Beth lie quietly asleep in God's Acre, & we remember them more tenderly with each year that brings us nearer them & home."

It was quite profound reading that journal entry after having just been at their graves a couple of weeks ago...

Right next door to Orchard House is The Wayside (you can read a bit more about it below). It was called Hillside when Louisa May Alcott lived there in her younger years, and she drew upon the many adventures she and her sisters had while living there when writing Little Women. She wrote of this house:
"I have at last got the little room I have wanted so long, and am very happy about it. It does me good to be alone, and Mother has made it very pretty and neat for me. My work-basket and desk are by the window and my closet is full of dired herbs that smell very nice."
(written by Louisa May Alcott, age 13,
in her journal, May, 1846)

Information regarding Hillside/The Wayside:


aspiritofsimplicity said...

Beautiful pictures. Have you read a biography? I found the one I read very interesting as her life was not as I had imagined at all.

Lyn said...

Gosh what an interesting post. I love Little Women but know little about it's author, thank you for sharing this with us.

Raindancer1 said...

Hi Donna,

Love your Lousia may Alcott posting and thanks for links. My husband, our daughter and son-in -law and I visited there in September..we loved it!

What a thrill to see the little homemade desk where "Little Women" came to life,to see the old rolling floors, somewhat lumpy beds, old needlework! and Amy's wonderful artwork,
[well really it was done by May].

Your blog brings it back so nicely...I had planned to post some of our trip to my Blog but you told it so well, I guess I won't need to!!! Did you get to Emerson house?

We hope to get to that one next year when we visit Cape Ann...our most favorite vacation spot in the whole world!


Lisa said...

What an awesome tour! THANKS! I love old houses with good history!!
Hugs, Lisa

Joanne Kennedy said...

I love Little Women. I'm going to see it as a play in a few weeks. Looking forward to it. I would love to see that house and her grave someday.


Claudia said...

What an amazing home - so full of history. The Alcotts were such an interesting family. To think that Louisa May Alcott wrote those wonderful stories there! Thanks for the tour.


Esther said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've loved Little Women since reading it as a teenager. I knew her family were involved with other writers and thinkers of the time but not much more than that. I'd really like to find out more about her life now.

Lisa said...



Old Time Cindy said...

Thank you for the tour and a touch of history.
Living it up at Lakewood,

Anonymous said...

I am so glad these treasures are still standing.I was born and raised in mother is buried in Sleepy Hollow..have not been to Concord in years.Thank You for photos and posts..brings back memories..Denise,Hull,Mass
text to click on

Missy Wertz said...

Donna, what a wonderful trip/tour! I love Louisa May Alcott! Thank you for posting and sharing.

The Curious Cat said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this - your photos of the house are beautiful. It is a shame you couldn't take ones inside but I do still recall it in my memory - along with the school where we put on a play about Alice in Wonderland when i was there at the tender age of 8. I love the bits from her journal that you share - especially about Charlotte Bronte. I love her too and it is interesting to see such a talented writer wish and hope for success...and know she succeeded in it. xxx

Lacy said...

What a treat! Thanks so much!

American Girl said...

One of my favorite books and I think I've seen every version of the movie so far lol But despite all the time I've spent in New England, I've yet to visit there (though we've come close). Thanks for the virtual tour :D