Thursday, May 5, 2011

History of Concord, Massachusetts

Few towns in the United States can boast incorporation in 1635, the date of the beginning of the colonial history of Concord, Massachusetts.

The annual "independence day" event in Concord, Massachusetts isn't on July 4th as in most parts of the USA, but this hardly represents any lack of patriotism on the part of Concord where the big parade is in April, following the reenactment of the battle for the Concord North Bridge. The North Bridge is now part of the National Park and is often considered the starting point of the Revolutionary War.

It should be noted that Lexingtonians from Lexington, Mass a short few miles away will often insist that it is Lexington Green, where Americans gathered earlier in the day to challenge the British, that is the true starting point of the Revolutionary War and not Concord. Serious historians generally note both events, suggesting that both events have enormous symbolic significance as setting the stage for the war to come and the eventual independence of the American states from England.

The North Bridge's fame stems partly from the poem written and read by Ralph Waldo Emerson at a Concord Bridge memorial years later where he called this the site of the "shot heard 'round the world"

Concord, MA by JoeDuck
Concord, MA, a photo by JoeDuck on Flickr.

Here, thanks to a summary from is an excellent list of sites important in the History of Concord:

The Bullet Hole House on Monument Street still has the hole from a bullet fired during the battle at the North Bridge. Please respect the folks who live in the houses while viewing all of Concord's historical homes.

Colonial Inn, earliest part built 1716 (Monument Square)

The Concord Museum is home to the Paul Revere lantern of "One if by land, two if by sea" fame, the best Henry David Thoreau collection, Ralph Waldo Emerson's Study. Don't miss the "Exploring Concord" film. Admission fee is low and well worth it - this is an excellent museum of early Americana. Location: Cambridge Turnpike at Lexington Rd, Concord.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson House was Emerson's home from 1835-1882. There is an excellent tour of the home and the history of this remarkable Massachusetts family. More about Emerson's writing

First Parish in Concord was the site of the first and second Provincial Congresses of 1774. (Lexington Rd)

Grapevine Cottage, home of developer of the Concord Grape, Ephraim Bull (Lexington Rd)

Meriam's Corner saw a skirmish between Minutemen and British troops retreating towards Boston on April 19, 1775. Location: Lexington Rd at Old Bedford Rd.

Minute Man National Historical Park, is an absolute "must see" area for anyone interested in US Colonial History. The Park includes the Old North Bridge and famous "Minuteman" statue. In April of each year hundreds of historical reenactors gather, dressed in British and Colonial garb, and fight the early battles of the American Revolutionary War. In the evening during the annual Concord "Patriot Days" festival candlelight tours of the park showcase some of the characters, homes, and activity during that time. Reservations are required for the candlelight fascinating tours - contact the National Park service for more information.

Old Hill Burying Ground: Colonial families and Revolutionary soldiers buried here. Location:
Lexington Rd at Monument Square.

The Old Manse, was the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Rev. William Emerson, the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Hawthorne on the Old Manse . Location: Monument Street next to Minute Man National Historical Park. Wikipedia entry about the Old Manse and it's role in the History of Concord The_Old_Manse.

Orchard House is another superb local tour focused on the colonial history of Concord. Orchard house was the the home of the Bronson Alcott family, including Louisa May Alcott, from 1858-1877. This was the house described in Lousia May's "LITTLE WOMEN". Location: 399 Lexington Rd.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetary, with "Author's Ridge", is the final resting place for many of Concord's finest and most influential early citizens including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Bronson Alcot. Note the Melvin Memorial by famous sculptor Daniel Chester French. From a page devoted to the famous and their gravesites, several in Sleepy Hollow are described and pictured here. (Bedford Street/Court Lane near the town center)

Along with other "must sees" in the history of Concord, you'll want to visit the famous Walden Pond, now a state park complete with a recreation of the tiny cabin where Thoreau lived and worked during some of his time in this area. Walden Pond is a few miles from downtown Concord, and the site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin and the source of much of his inspiration for the book "Walden." Route 126 near Route 2.

The Wayside was home to the Hawthorns, Alcotts, and later author Margaret Sidney who wrote "The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew". Location: 455 Lexington Road.

Wright's Tavern on Monument Square was built in 1747. The plaque on the front reads "Here met the committees of the PROVINCIAL CONGRESS on the eve of the Revolution while the larger body sat in the MEETING HOUSE close by. Headquarters of the Minutemen in the early morning of April 19, 1775. Later that day Headquarters of the British under command of Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn".


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