Yesterday was Patriot’s Day here in Massachusetts, commemorating the Battle of Lexington and Concord (even though it actually happened on the 19th; it’s a convenient long weekend for state employees such as myself). My own Patriot’s Day tradition is to walk the Battle Road through Lexington, Lincoln and Concord, sometimes with a crowd, sometimes with just my immediate family, sometimes by myself. This year I was all by myself, so I thought I might run the route rather than walk it, but I completely wimped out because of the heat: it was in the high 80s, making it a very uncomfortable day for Boston marathoners (the other big event of the day). I did walk most of the route, then I bailed and had lunch and went shopping in Concord Center. Not very patriotic!
Concord is a stunning town, full of beautiful houses and lovely landscapes. Nathaniel Hawthorne definitely preferred his beloved Wayside to any of his Salem dwellings, I must admit. Salem was a little busy for him in the middle of the nineteenth century, and he always felt the burden of his family’s witch-hunting past there. Concord was bucolic, but not so isolated that he couldn’t find interesting people to talk to like the Alcotts (from whom he bought his house) and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I’m always impressed by the variety of historic houses in Concord. There are lovely colonial houses, but also houses in the full spectrum of nineteenth-century styles: vernacular farmhouses, Greek and Gothic Revivals, Victorians, and lots of center-gabled houses that I associate more with New York than New England. It is a wealthy town, so it has its share of Mcmansions too. Here are a few photographs of some of my favorites, but I could have snapped many more.
Flags and banners all around Concord for Patriot’s Day; with the heat, it seemed more like July 4th than April 16th. The tower on the last house above mirrors Hawthorne’s “writing tower” at the Wayside, below in 1910 Detroit Publishing and 1941 HABS photographs.
I have long admired the stone Gothic Revival house below: look at the windows, the trim, the fence! It’s spectacular. Behind it is Concord’s hillside cemetery, with flags for Revolutionary War veterans.
More Concord houses: a very random sampling.
A colonial house with a stone-like facade, the Old Manse, Hawthorne’s other Concord address, where he and his bride Sophia stayed after their marriage, an amazing house across from the Old Manse–its additions go on and on, a pristine colonial which is just over the line, in Lincoln, and my newest Concord house.
There’s a lot more to do in Concord than just walk around and take pictures of houses. There is great shopping in its center, including one of my very favorite shops called Nesting on Main and a really neat kitchen shop, among others. There are the Wayside and Orchard House museums and the great little Concord Museum, of which I am completely jealous for Salem, which deserves a dedicated history museum just as nice. The Concord Museum gives you a great chronological timeline with period rooms and furnishings, and also has revolving exhibitions: currently they are featuring 70+ treasures from the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collection arranged in an exhibition entitled The Object of History.
Tabletop items at Nesting on Main, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study in the Concord Museum, along with the portrait of Dorothy Quincy, circa 1720 by an anonymous artist, part of “The Object of History: Colonial Treasures from the Massachusetts Historical Society”, on view until June 17.
And then there is Walden Pond, which was very crowded this particular hot APRIL afternoon.