Patriots’ Day 2023
Following the Trail of Louisa
The Civilian Evacuation of April 19, 1775
PLUS! THINGS TO SEE & DO THIS SPRING
FOUNDERS from the
Following the Trail of Louisa
The Civilian Evacuation of April 19, 1775
PLUS! THINGS TO SEE & DO THIS SPRING
FOUNDERS from the
Spring is here once again bringing warmer days, newly emerging flowers, and, of course, Patriots’ Day celebrations! We are just two years away from the 250th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and plans are underway across Massachusetts and the nation to celebrate that historic moment in US history.
Discover Concord is proud to play a part in sharing the exciting stories of the men and women who were such a pivotal part of the birth of our nation. Beginning with this issue, look for the official logo of Concord 250 – the town’s program to celebrate this special Patriots’ Day anniversary. Created by local designer Priscilla Sturges, this is the logo that was officially adopted by the Town just days before our spring issue went to press:
With each issue leading up to the 250th anniversary, a progressively larger number of articles in Discover Concord will be branded “Concord 250” in honor of the upcoming celebrations. We hope you will enjoy them!
Beginning right now, you can find a complete schedule of the Patriots’ Day 2023 live events in this issue on p. 12. To better understand the history of the day, have a look at the illustrated timeline on p. 16. Historian Richard Smith takes you into the world of the dedicated living history reenactors who make these events possible in “Patriots’ Day: Reenacting History” on p. 18. And the compelling tales of “The Civilian Evacuation of April 19, 1775” on p. 22 remind us that women and children are frequently in the path of conflict.
While you may have heard the volley of cannon fire around Patriots’ Day, you may not have realized that the Concord Independent Battery is America’s oldest ongoing active horse-drawn artillery unit. Learn more in “Honoring the Past: The Concord Independent Battery” on p. 26 and consider joining the unit as they prepare for the anniversary celebrations on April 19, 2025.
This year, the Concord Free Public Library and the Concord Museum present “A Perpetual Invitation: 150 Years of Art at the Concord Free Public Library” (p. 34). This extraordinary exhibit will feature selected objects from the Library’s collection of more than 200 pieces of art. In addition, both the Library and the Museum will offer an array of programs including lectures, workshops, talks, and tours.
Eager fans flock to visit the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House each year to experience what life was like in the home where she wrote Little Women. But did you know that Louisa was also a theatre enthusiast? This year, The Concord Players and Orchard House are teaming up to present “It’s Little Women Spring!” Learn more about the special kinship between these two organizations and the creative plan they have put together to the delight of Little Women fans everywhere (p. 24). And for a walking adventure, visit some of the places where Louisa lived her everyday life in “Concord Sketches: Following the Trail of Louisa May Alcott Through Concord” on p. 56.
From stunning Concord gardens to pioneering Boy Scouts, architectural insights, centennial celebrations, and so much more – this issue is filled with what makes Concord a very special place to live and a joy to visit. We hope, as always, that you will enjoy – and that this issue will help you Discover Concord!Cynthia L. Baudendistel Co-Founder Jennifer C. Schünemann Co-Founder
10 Things to See & Do this SpringBY JENNIFER C. SCHÜNEMANN
12 Patriots’ Day 2023BY JENNIFER C. SCHÜNEMANN
16 An Illustrated Timeline of April 19, 1775BY ERICA LOME
18 Patriots’ Day: Reenacting History BYRICHARD SMITH
22 The Civilian Evacuation of April 19, 1775BY ALEXANDER CAIN
24 It’s Little Women Spring! BYSTEPHANIE CLOUTIER
26 Honoring the Past: The Concord Independent BatteryBY PHIL KENNEY, BOB EATON, ABBY MYETTE, AND SANDY SMITH
29 The Dangerous Déjà VuBY JAIMEE LEIGH JOROFF
34 A Perpetual Invitation: 150 Years of Art at the Concord Free Public Library BY ANKEVOSS
36 Phebe Bliss Emerson Ripley BYJIM SHERBLOM
Contents Continued on Page 6
38 Beauty Abounds in Concord Gardens: The 34th Annual Concord Museum Garden Tour BY CONCORDMUSEUM
GUILD OF VOLUNTEERS
41 Where to Stay, Shop, and Eat in Concord
42 Walking Maps of Concord
46 Concord’s Daughters of the American Revolution BY CHRISTINECHAMBERLAIN
48 Concord Academy Celebrates its Centennial BY HEATHERSULLIVAN
50 Concord Land Trust’s Wright Woods BY JEFFWIEAND
52 51 Walden Fulfills its Joyous Purpose BY LINDAMcCONCHIE
56 Concord Sketches: Following the Trails of Louisa May Alcott Through Concord BY JILLFULLER
58 Ellen Garrison: Educator, Civil Rights Activist, Daughter of Concord BY JENNIFER C. SCHÜNEMANN
60 Historic Concord: Plan Your Visit BY CYNTHIA L.BAUDENDISTEL
62 State-of-the-Art Facility Brings High Caliber Theater Experiences to Concord BY SARAHSHINER
64 Concord Women’s Chorus Celebrates the Power of Women’s Voices BY CYNTHIAL. BAUDENDISTEL
Contents Continued on Page 8
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Deborah C. Smith, 978.758.2693 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia L. Baudendistel
Jennifer C. Schünemann
Wilson S. Schünemann
THE WALDEN WOODS PROJECT
Bobbi Benson CONCORD ART AND ANTIQUES
Marie Foley REVOLUTIONARY CONCORD Professor
Robert A. Gross UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
JOY STREET LIFE + HOMEFONDRIEST
Barbara Evangelista CONCORD MUSEUM
Jan Turnquist LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S ORCHARD HOUSE
Nikki Turpin THE ROBBINS HOUSE
Steve Verrill VERRILL FARM
Jerry Wedge THE UMBRELLA ARTS CENTER
David Wood CONCORD MUSEUM
COVER PHOTO: The Captain William Smith House at the Minute Man National Historical Park, Lincoln, MA ©Jennifer C. Schünemann
Cynthia L. Baudendistel
Concord Museum Guild of Volunteers
Jaimee Leigh Joroff
Jennifer C. Schünemann
In celebration of the Concord Free Public Library’s 150th anniversary, the Library and the Concord Museum have collaborated on a special exhibition of the Library’s exceptional art collection. Learn about Concord’s artists and the Library’s original vision as a public space for the community to experience art and culture. The exhibition will run through September 4.
Patriots’ Day Minuteman Encampment
Monday, April 17
10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
See the Acton Minutemen Company drilling with muskets, cooking over a firepit, and demonstrating colonial activities.
Patriots’ Day Family Activities
Monday, April 17
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free with Museum admission
Free for Members
Try different drop-in activities to learn about life and craft in the colonies. See a craftsperson demonstrating how to make objects from horn, such as cups, combs and powder horns. Beware of a Red Coat from the British Army roaming the galleries looking for Provincial rebels!
34th Annual Garden Tour
Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit six beautiful private gardens throughout Concord on this self-guided, self-paced tour.
Annual Spring Gala
Saturday, May 13
Support the Museum and Paul Revere’s Ride Fund by attending our annual Spring Gala, taking place at the American Heritage Museum in Hudson MA.
Annual Earth Day Forum
Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Tuesday, April 25 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Free for Members | $10 Non-Members
Lauret Savoy, the David B. Truman
Professor of Environmental Studies & Geology at Mount Holyoke College and a woman of African American, Euro-American, and Indigenous ancestry, joins us for a conversation on her award-winning book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape. Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, Professor Savoy explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.
An Evening with Robert Pinsky, US Poet Laureate
Date To Be Announced
Free for Members | $10 Non-Members
Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997–2000, joins us for a reading and conversation on writing, teaching, and poetry’s place in the world. It was said of Robert Pinsky in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, “No other living American poet—no other living American, probably—has done so much to put poetry before the public eye.”
Robert Pinsky will read from his latest poetry collection Jersey Breaks
1 Join Minute Man National Historical Park April 8 through 19 for events honoring the men and women who fought for a new nation on April 19, 1775. See our article on p. 12 for a comprehensive list of activities and events in Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln and witness the thrilling reenactments of the events along the battle road!
2Everyone loves a parade! Enjoy the annual Patriots Day Parade as reenactors, local groups, veterans, and Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution march to the beat of fife and drum, including a ceremony at the North Bridge. April 17, starts at 9 am. visitconcord.org
3 An Enemy Among Us! While visiting the Concord Museum on April 17, beware! A redcoat from the British Army is roaming the galleries, looking for provincial rebels! Talk with him about the experiences of the redcoats in the days leading up to April 19, 1775.
4Join in the Patriot Vigil on April 18. As darkness descends upon the North Bridge, take a moment to reflect on the events of April 19, 1775, and the meaning of liberty. The evening ceremony features a lantern-light procession, poetry, music, and a recitation of the names of the soldiers
who gave their lives on that fateful day. Please bring your own enclosed lantern – real candles only – no flashlights or LED lights please.
5Visit the brave Acton Minutemen Company encampment at the Concord Museum on April 17 and see them drilling with muskets to prepare for battle. “I haven’t a man who is afraid to go!” Also at the encampment, you’ll see civilians cooking over a firepit, demonstrating colonial spinning and sewing, and meet an artisan demonstrating how various objects were made from horn during the colonial period – including powder horns and everyday items such as cups and combs.
Earth Day returns to The Umbrella Arts Center on April 22nd with creative, family-friendly celebrations on the front lawn. Make and launch your own Earth Day float, enjoy live music, partake in arts & crafts, and join in the fun with the Earth Month Exhibit scavenger hunt.
for her rights after she was forcibly ejected from a segregated waiting room at a Baltimore train station. Learn about her fascinating life in our article on p. 58.
The Umbrella Arts Center presents Points of Return – May 1 to June 25. Artists from all over the world take over two floors of the building, as well as the black box theatre with stunning visual exhibits, a multimedia show, curator tours of the work, and other activities. Led by co-curators from Spain and Ireland, this show is expected to attract international attention – don’t miss it! theumbrellaarts.org
May is Preservation Month authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Did you know that Concord has 26 historic places on the register, including the Emerson House, the Old Manse, the Colonel James Barrett Farm, and Minute Man National Historical Park? Curious about our cultural heritage? Find a list of Concord’s sites, and others across the nation, at nps.gov/ subjects/nationalregister/databaseresearch.htm#table
7Nothing says SPRING like flowers! Visit some of Concord’s finest private gardens as the Concord Museum Guild of Volunteers hosts the 34th Annual Garden Tour on June 2 and 3. This self-paced, self-guided tour lets you inhale the delicate scent of roses, peonies, and other spring flowers while listening to the happy sounds of birds and bees. It’s a dose of happiness for the soul! Tickets go on sale April 15 at concordmuseum.org
On April 14, celebrate the 200th birthday of Ellen Garrison –anti-slavery activist, teacher, and pioneer. She was the first person to test the 1866 Civil Rights Act in court, when she stood up
Dive into the fun world of folk art and dancing at the National Folk Organization Conference March 29 through April 1 at the Trinitarian Congregational Church and the Scout House. Enjoy workshops, presentations, and dancing to live music. nfo-usa.com
Flowers aren’t the only thing blooming this spring! The arts are alive and vibrant in Concord, with dozens of concerts, gallery exhibits, and theatrical productions on stage to thrill and delight children and adults alike. Plan a night (or several!) on the town with our “Arts Around Town” article on p. 70 and the “Artist Spotlight” on p. 68. Concord’s restaurants are here to make your night out a feast for all the senses. Turn to “Where to Stay, Where to Shop, Where to Eat” on p. 41 to book the perfect table to start your night out in Concord.
13 Visit The Old Manse and learn about the fascinating home that witnessed the events of April 19, 1775 and, a century later, housed two of Concord’s most famous writers: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. thetrustees.org/ place/the-old-manse
14 Take a day to shop local. The town centers of Concord, West Concord, Thoreau Depot, and Nine-Acre Corner have almost anything you can think of! Have some fun and explore our comprehensive guide of “Where to Stay, Where to Shop, Where to Eat” on p. 41 and then use our neighborhood maps on p. 42 and 43 to guide your way. There’s even a list of restaurants and coffee shops to visit when you’re feeling hungry. Enjoy!
15 Rent a bicycle at the Visitor Center and explore Concord and the surrounding area! Nature lovers will enjoy peddling along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, and history buffs can take in the many sites of the battle road in Minute Man National Historical Park. visitconcord.org
16 Enjoy al fresco dining as our town’s restaurants welcome you this spring with outdoor dining on a New England front porch (Concord’s Colonial Inn), a tucked away patio (Fiorella’s Cucina), and an outside spot with great people watching (Woods Hill Table). Or grab a to-go order and enjoy a picnic spot by the Visitor Center, the Concord Free Public Library, or next to Concord Teacakes in West Concord (they have delicious takeout options, as well as heavenly cakes and coffees). See our guide on p. 41 and discover your next dining delight!
April is a very special time in Concord and Lexington. Hundreds of historians, reenactors, park rangers, docents, and tour guides work together to present living history to thousands of visitors from all around the world. You won’t want to miss a moment of the exciting history that comes alive as we remember and honor the bravery of those who fought for liberty on April 19, 1775. Here are a few of the highlights of this year’s events.
SATURDAY, APRIL 8
Time TBD – Meriam’s Corner Exercise
Meriam’s Corner, 24 Old Bedford Road, Concord
The Town of Concord, joined by local fife and drum ensembles, minutemen and militia reenactors, and the Concord Independent Battery commemorate the fighting that took place here on April 19, 1775. This site marks the start of the running battle back to Boston.
Time TBD - The Capture of Paul Revere
Paul Revere Capture Site, 180 North Great Road, Lincoln
The Lincoln Minute Men, joined by other reenactment units, will relive the capture of Paul Revere with fife and drum music, a theatrical performance, and a musket fire salute.
SATURDAY APRIL 15
Morning (time TBD) – Explore the Elm Brook Hill (Bloody Angle) Battle Site with Edmund Foster
Join Edmund Foster as you explore the Bloody Angle (Elm Brook Hill) Battle Site. Edmund Foster, a militiaman from Reading, Massachusetts (portrayed by park volunteer Ed Hurley) will lead a tour to this key battle
site where he fought on April 19, 1775. He will be joined by Lincoln historian and author Don Hafner.
9:30 am – 11:45 pm – Caught in the Storm of War: The Civilian Experience of April 19, 1775 Hartwell Tavern and Captain William Smith House, 136 North Great Road, Lincoln If you had to leave your home in a hurry, uncertain of your return, what would
you take with you? Learn about the local civilians on April 19, 1775, who struggled to save their families and belongings from the path of war. Meet living history volunteers at the Hartwell Tavern and the Captain William Smith House portraying colonial civilians. Starting at 11:45 am, with the sounds of battle approaching, they will hastily close up the house and head off down the road. Experience the stories of ordinary women and men whose lives were suddenly upended by war. The civilian evacuation scenario will begin at the Hartwell Tavern at 11:45 am and end near the Parker’s Revenge Site, a distance of nearly two miles. There you will be directed to the viewing area to see the tactical demonstration at 1:00 pm.
12:45 pm – Parker’s RevengeBattle Road Tactical Demonstration Minute Man Visitor Center, North Great Road, Lexington
Captain Parker wants revenge for the militiamen killed in Lexington earlier that day, and he shall have it! Witness hundreds of British and colonial reenactors engage in a battle demonstration of the running
fight that took place along this deadly stretch of road on the border of Lincoln and Lexington. After the demonstration, you will have the opportunity to talk with these amazing volunteers and learn about British regulars and colonial militiamen in great detail.
SUNDAY, APRIL 16
1:30 – 4:30 pm - Search of the Col. James Barrett Farm Colonel James Barrett House, 448 Barrett’s Mill Road, Concord
At 3:00 am on April 19, 1775, Colonel James Barrett was awoken by a messenger shouting for him –the King’s troops were coming to search the town and seize weapons! Colonel Barrett and his wife, Rebecca, raced to hide artillery, musket balls, cartridges, and more. Join costumed park rangers and volunteers at the Barrett House and learn more about colonial military preparations. Get ready because around 3:30 pm, British soldiers will arrive and conduct a search of the property, looking for supplies.
MONDAY, APRIL 17
8:15 am – Ceremony on the Battle Green, Lexington
Bear witness to the terrible events at the Lexington Green, when a shot fired (we don’t know by whom) caused the British light infantry to attack Captain Parker’s company with bayonets and muskets, killing eight militiamen and injuring 10 more. News of this massacre spread far and wide, and steeled the resolve of the minutemen who would be waiting at the North Bridge and beyond, later that day.
8:30 am – North Bridge Fight Commemoration
Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord Commemorate Patriots’ Day with a dramatic battle demonstration involving colonial minutemen, British regulars, and musket fire, marking the “shot heard ‘round the world.” Please note that roads in Concord close at 8:30 am, so plan to arrive early.
TUESDAY, APRIL 18
7:45 pm – Patriot Vigil at the North Bridge
North Bridge Visitor Center, 174 Liberty Street, Concord
As darkness descends upon the North Bridge battlefield, join in the lantern light procession and ceremony as you reflect on the events of April 19, 1775, and the meaning of liberty. The
evening ceremony will feature a lanternlight procession, poetry, music, and a recitation of the names of the soldiers who gave their lives on that “ever-memorable” 19th of April.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19
11:30 am - Arrival of the Sudbury Militia at the North Bridge
The Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute will make their annual march to the North Bridge in honor of their fellow townsmen who made the same march in 1775. They will fire volleys from the North Bridge in soldierly salute.
National Park Service staff will be on hand to help guide you to parking, but please plan well ahead for these enormously popular events.
Dress in layers, wear comfortable shoes, and bring water. Restrooms are available, but could be spaced far apart.
Please stay behind the rope lines. While all reenactors are firing blanks, it is still dangerous to step into an active reenactment site. If park staff see a person cross the ropes, they will stop the entire scene to keep people safe. Please respect the hard work that goes into preparing these events, and abide by the rules.
Muskets and cannon fire are loud. Those with sensitive hearing and small children may be more comfortable watching from a distance. And while your trusted furry friend may THINK he wants to come along, many dogs are frightened by loud noises. They might be more comfortable at home.
12 pm – Battle Road Anniversary Hike
Battle Road, Minute Man National Historical Park
Join National Park Rangers for an immersive fivemile guided Battle Road trail hike. Follow in the footsteps of the ill-fated British column as their stories come to life. Learn of the trials and triumphs of those who experienced the bloody events of April 19, 1775. After the program concludes at Fiske Hill, a shuttle bus (reservations required) will transport registered participants back to the parking area. friendsofminuteman.org
The Patriot Vigil allows candle lanterns only. No flashlights or LED lighting please, out of respect for those who passed on this important day in our nation’s history.
For updates on events –including what to do in the event of inclement weather – visit the National Park Service website at nps. gov/mima/planyourvisit/ special-event.htm.©Jennifer C. Schünemann Concord Parade at Monument Square
A walking tour with a Certified Interpretive Guide is a great way to go deeper into the fascinating history of Concord.
Walking tours also make great gifts – and are a wonderful way to entertain family and out of town guests!
Our tours include:
Perfect for the fan of American history
Explore the fascinating Authors Ridge in Sleepy Hollow
Perfect for the group that wants to learn about the American Revolution AND the Transcendentalists LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S CONCORD
Fans of Little Women and Louisa May Alcott won’t want to miss this!
LEGENDS AND LORE
Dive into the lesser-known town tales of Concord! GRAVE DETECTIVES
A family friendly tour exploring the iconography and stories of Old Hill Burying Ground
Book your tour today and walk with us, where history happened!
What happened on April 19, 1775? Explore this illustrated timeline for the full story.BY ERICA LOME
APRIL 18, 1775
On the evening of April 18, 1775, Provincial leaders in Boston learn that General Gage is sending 700 British Regulars to raid a stockpile of military supplies in Concord.
Paul Revere arranges for two lanterns to be lit in the belfry of North Church, signaling that the Regulars are heading out by water.
10:30 pm - 12:00 am
Revere and William Dawes, another alarm rider, set out, while British Regulars cross the Charles River. Both the lantern signal and additional riders serve to spread the alarm in all directions. Provincial forces begin to mobilize around the countryside.
Provincial leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock receive the news and leave Lexington to avoid the Regulars. Revere and Dawes then race toward Concord but are captured by a British patrol. A new rider, Samuel Prescott, carries on and alarms the people of Concord.
1 Lantern, about 1775. Concord Museum Collection, Gift of Cummings E. Davis (1886); M400a1
2,5,7 Still images from the April 19, 1775 animation at the Concord Museum. Produced by RLMG.
3 Clock movement and dial, 1769. Concord Museum Collection, Gift of the Decorative Arts Fund with assistance of Malcolm R. Mahan (1975); F2512. Reproduction case made by William Huyett, 2020. Gift of William and Lauren Huyett. 4 Silver-hilted Sword, about 1760. Concord Museum Collection, Gift of Mrs. Chandler; A2060.1 6 Beam from the North Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts. Concord Museum Collection, Gift of the Town of Concord (1956); M2130
2:00 am - 4:30 am
The Regulars, still on the banks of the Charles River, have lost the element of surprise. They begin their march to Concord, which will take them through Lexington. Meanwhile, Lexington’s militia await their arrival at Buckman’s Tavern.
Drumbeats summon Lexington militia to gather on the Lexington Common as the British approach. Major John Pitcairn’s advance companies of 100 Regulars encounter Captain John Parker and his 60 men. Despite orders on both sides not to engage, a shot rings out. In response, the Regulars open fire. Seconds later, eight Provincials lay dead and ten more wounded.
The advance companies regroup and rejoin the main column of Regulars. Together, the soldiers resume the march to Concord.
The Provincials stationed above the North Bridge are alarmed to see smoke rising from the center of Concord. Believing that Regulars are ransacking the town, they ready for combat and march toward the bridge.
The 100 British Regulars at the bridge open fire, killing two Provincials: Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer. Major John Buttrick orders his men to return fire – the famous “shot heard round the world.” Three minutes later, three Regulars are dead and several more wounded.
Having accomplished their mission, the Regulars begin marching back to Boston. However, their path is impeded by Provincial forces who keep up an encircling fire on the main column. The march turns into a 15-mile long battle.
Eventually, outnumbered two to one, the British face some of the harshest fighting of the day near present-day Arlington. Many Regulars abandon their arms to lighten their load on the return to Boston. By now, Provincial forces total 3600 men.
The British Regulars arrive in Concord. By then, 450 Provincial militia and minutemen have assembled near the North Bridge. The Regulars split up to secure the town’s bridges and destroy military supplies. Luckily, the Provincials had relocated most of the stockpile shortly before the raid. The Regulars set on fire or throw in the mill pond what little they find.
In Lexington, the returning Regulars are joined by a relief column of 1000 Regulars. By this point, the Provincial forces have grown to over 1500 men, a number that continues to increase as militiamen from all over Massachusetts join the fray.
With 243 men killed, wounded, and missing, the Regulars barely make it back to Boston by sundown. The Siege of Boston begins.
An alarm system that began with two lit lanterns summoned 20,000 Provincials from across the region. This massive force confined the British Army to Boston for 11 months, a siege that ended with George Washington’s capture of Dorchester Heights. The occupying British troops left Massachusetts in March of 1776, never to return.
See the events of April 19, 1775 unfold at the Concord Museum online and in person! The new permanent galleries tell the story of that fateful day as never before, guided by artifacts and multi-media animations. The exhibition continues online with the Museum’s new ‘Shot Heard Round the World’ microsite which was officially recognized by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. Shotheardroundworld.org and concordmuseum.org
“Here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world”
— RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Concord Hymn, 1837
Spring is a time of rebirth, and with the melting of snow we begin to think about the blooming of flowers and the budding of trees as nature reawakens after her winter slumber. But in Concord, the arrival of spring brings to mind more warlike notions, and the sights and sounds of marching redcoats and militiamen fill the town as Concord commemorates the April 19, 1775, Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Tourists are enthralled with these figures from the past, and even lifelong Concordians enjoy seeing these breeches-clad, muskettoting visitors.
But who are these time travelers? Why do they insist on bringing the stories of our founding fathers and mothers to life? I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with two colonial living historians to find out how they came to be involved with Patriots’ Day.
For Larissa Sasgen, living history has been a part of her life since she was a child. Originally from Illinois, she was born into a reenacting family, and wore colonial clothing
Sfrom an early age. She received her degree in music performance from Northern Illinois University and, in 2007, made the move to Massachusetts after getting a spot as a fifer with the Middlesex County Volunteers, one of the premier fife and drum units in the country. She moved to the area one week before Patriots’ Day and was immediately enthralled with being so close to Concord.
“Concord was always such a mythical place to me,” she said. And here she was, about to take part in the Patriots’ Day parade with the Middlesex County Volunteers! It wasn’t long before she got involved with Revolutionary War reenactment groups, and she was soon volunteering at Minute Man National Historical Park. It’s safe to say that Patriots’ Day has become one of her favorite days; she still marches in the parade with the Middlesex County Volunteers and takes part in living history programs with Minute Man National Historical Park.
Like Larissa, Jarrad Fuoss began his love of history at an early age. Growing up in
central Pennsylvania, his parents took him to Gettysburg when he was about eight years old. Already into history, he was “absolutely hooked” on that trip, and seeing a Civil War reenactment at Gettysburg “sealed the deal” for him; he knew that American history would be his lifelong passion. That passion led to Jarrad getting his dream job with the National Park Service in 2014 as a park ranger at Gettysburg, where he got involved in Civil War living history. He visited Concord in 2018 and saw that Minute Man National Historical Park (MMNHP) was hiring, and by the following year he was a park ranger at MMNHP, talking about the shot heard ‘round the world at the North Bridge.
Jarrad was well aware of Concord’s importance in American history, and he was also aware of the significance of MMNHP’s role in telling the stories of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. One of the reasons Jarrad wanted to be in Concord was because of the Park’s reputation for historic interpretation and that it was “the place to
be” for living history programs. Indeed, the living history programs at the Park are second to none in their authenticity.
And then COVID hit. There was no Patriots’ Day celebration in 2020 and in 2021 the events were all virtual. Jarrad spent those two years reading everything he could about the Battle of Concord, April 19, and eighteenth-century weapons and clothing. His first “real” Patriots’ Day was in 2022. So how was it? “It was AWESOME,’’ he told me, with a big smile.
Larissa agrees that Patriots’ Day in Concord is indeed awesome, and she describes it as the “historian’s Super Bowl.” Both she and Jarrad mentioned that they have gotten chills on Patriots’ Day; being in Concord on April 19, wearing eighteenthcentury clothing, and walking on the same ground where the battles were fought is an emotional experience they get to relive every year.
So why do it? Why wear several layers of wool and linen and run around pretending you’re somebody else? It’s Jarrad’s job and is Larissa’s hobby, but to both of them it’s also a way of life. “I don’t know what normal people do for a hobby.” Larissa said. But the main reason they do it is to educate the public – and themselves – about eighteenth-century life.
The sheer amount of information available about a single day in 1775 that they use for research is mind-numbing. All good living history interpreters will spend hours and hours combing through period accounts describing the first day of the American Revolution; research is key if you want to accurately and realistically portray a person that lived 248 years ago. It’s not enough to just wear the right clothing. They need to learn how and why they’re wearing the clothes they have on and how to use the tools and weapons they are working with. Every stitch, every button, every musket is a gateway into the eighteenth-century and the people who lived back then. There’s no detail too small that won’t be used to tell the stories of 1775.
It wasn’t just soldiers who experienced April 19, 1775. Civilians were affected too. A few years ago, Larissa became involved with the Ladies Association of Revolutionary America (LARA), a living history group started by Ruth Hodges to research and portray the women who lived through the
first day of the American Revolution. The group is an added dimension to the story of Patriots’ Day, giving a complete picture of the events surrounding April 19. Patriots’ Day activities now include a portrayal of the women and children who lived along Lexington Road in 1775 and how they bundled up belongings and valuables and evacuated Concord as the British regulars approached the town. The research of primary documents, such as letters and diaries from those who lived through it, help the women of LARA give voice to those evacuees uprooted by the conflict.
Although Patriots’ Day comes only once a year, for Jarrad and the staff at Minute Man National Historical Park it’s a year-long event. When I asked him when preparations begin for the big day, Jarrad replied, “It never really stops!” Taking their cue from the park’s Living History and Historic Weapons Program Coordinator, Jim Hollister, the NPS rangers, staff, and volunteers are often planning the next Patriots’ Day events soon after they wrap up the one they just participated in.
The time and money that Jarrad, Larissa, and hundreds of others put into their accurate portrayal of eighteenth-century people is well worth the effort. These time travelers who recreate militiamen, redcoats, farmers, housewives, children, and even ministers, bring the eighteenthcentury back to life on Patriots’ Day. They do all that reading, research, sewing, and military training so that we can experience with them what it was like to be in Concord
on April 19, 1775. The pageantry, the bravery, the worry, the fear, the sadness: it all comes back to us through the hard work and dedication of these living history interpreters. They make history real for us. And Patriots’ Day just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Richard Smith has worked as a public historian in Concord for 21 years, specializing in Henry David Thoreau, the transcendentalists, the anti-slavery movement, and the Civil War. He has written six books for Applewood Books.
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Historians have often overlooked a critical aspect of the Battles of Lexington and Concord; the psychological and physical impact on the civilian populace. Hours before the engagement, at approximately six o’clock in the evening of April 18, 1775, Lexington resident Solomon Brown observed nine British officers riding slowly along the country road before him. The night was not very cold, yet Brown noted that each officer was wearing a heavy wool blue overcoat under which he could see the shape of their pistols. Taken aback, Brown passed the officers and galloped towards Lexington. He rode directly to Munroe’s Tavern, informing Sergeant William Munroe of what he had observed.BY ALEXANDER CAIN
Hmost residents recognized that a hostile military force was marching directly toward them. With the possibility of the town being subjected to plunder and destruction, a panic set in. Many who lived along the Bay Road (present-day Massachusetts Avenue and Route 2A) prepared to evacuate. Sergeant William Munroe’s wife, Anna Munroe, started baking bread for her husband. Later she confessed, “I mixed my bread last night with tears coming, for I feared I should have no husband when the next mixing came.”1
The panic quickly spread to neighboring communities. The Reverend William Gordon of Roxbury noted that colonists from Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord who
women and children gathered whatever personal belongings they could carry and fled either to nearby woods or towns.
For some women, the flight was arduous. Lexington’s Sarah Marrett, Amity Pierce, Sarah Reed, and Betty White were recovering, having given birth over the past month. Three other women from the same town, Dorcus Parker, Elizabeth Estabrook, and Lydia Harrington, were all over eight months pregnant. In Menotomy, Hannah Adams and Hannah Bradish had each given birth less than two weeks earlier and were bedridden. Unlike their Lexington counterparts, the two Hannahs were too weak to flee and, later that same day, were caught in the middle of a bloody firefight as British and Massachusetts soldiers fought through their village.
Upon hearing the exchange of musketry from the Battle of Lexington, Lydia Parker sent her eldest son to the top of a nearby hill to see whether the British regulars were moving to plunder Lexington homes. 2 Once confident the British column had moved on to Concord, many returned to the town common. Upon arrival, they discovered that over two hundred men from Woburn’s militia and minuteman companies had arrived and were assisting in treating the wounded. By mid-morning, residents of Lexington buried their dead in a makeshift grave.
At eleven o’clock, alarm rider Paul Revere arrived in Lexington, warning of a military expedition advancing from Boston. A second alarm rider, William Dawes, came approximately an hour later and confirmed Revere’s report. As a result, Captain John Parker ordered his militia company to assemble. When Lexington’s alarm bell began to toll as a call to arms,
lived along the Bay Road fled for safety. In Lincoln, Mary Hoar Farrar and her family ran away to a retired piece of forest land called “Oakey Bottom.” While hiding, she and her family occasionally emerged from the woods to see whether the British had burned her homestead. Martha Moulton of Concord recalled that upon receiving word of the regulars advancing on the town, many
After the fight at Concord’s North Bridge, many residents from Lincoln, Lexington, Menotomy, and Cambridge correctly concluded that the British regulars would be marching back through their respective towns again and prepared to flee to safety for a second time. At the height of the flight, one witness recalled the roads clogged with child and female refugees weeping. 3 Another witness described homes far away from the fight, overwhelmed by women and infants wailing in despair and unsure of the fate of their spouses or male relatives who were off fighting the regulars.
Unfortunately, some families waited until the last moment to escape and collided with
the British army. Lincoln’s Mary Hartwell would later recall how she trembled with fear as the retreating regulars approached her home wild with rage as they fired towards the house. Lexington’s Anna Munroe, daughter of William and Anna, was five years old when the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place. After returning to Munroe Tavern following the first evacuation, the family was forced to flee again. According to her nineteenth-century account, Anna “could remember seeing the men in red coats coming toward the house and how frightened her mother was when they ran from the house. That was all she could remember, but her mother told her of her very unhappy afternoon. She held Anna by the hand, brother William by her side, and baby Sally in her arms . . . She could hear the cannon firing over her head on the hill. She could smell the smoke of the three buildings which the British burned between here and the center of Lexington.”4
Many Lexington, Menotomy, and Cambridge residents watched in horror from the safety of distant hills as their homes were burned, destroyed, or looted by regulars retreating through their town. Some were horrified at the extent of the damage. A “Mrs. Muzzy” returned home to find that British soldiers had broken her mirror and valuable crockery, fired bullets into an interior wall, and left the floorboards
smeared with blood. When Anna Munroe returned to her family tavern, she quickly noted that the retreating soldiers had eaten her freshly baked bread, broken into her supplies, and consumed all the alcohol in the shop. She also discovered the soldiers had piled up her furniture, including a mahogany table, and set it on fire in an attempt to burn the tavern down.
In the months after the fight of April 19, 1775, residents along the Bay Road started to compile a running list of lost, stolen, or destroyed property. According to claims submitted to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and the Massachusetts legislature, the approximate damage to civilian real and personal property equaled over one million dollars in 2023 currency value.
His Majesty’s forces never again marched on the Massachusetts countryside. The departure of British troops from Boston in 1776 did little to calm the nerves of the civilian population. For the remainder of the war, residents and government officials worried that the regulars would return,
seeking revenge. As a result, the state legislature and local communities drafted contingent evacuation plans calling for women and children to flee to the safety of remote areas of Massachusetts or neighboring states in the event of an attack. Fortunately, the threat of invasion never came to fruition. However, well into the early nineteenth-century, surviving women and children shared their harrowing tales of escaping the British army’s wrath on April 19, 1775.
Alexander Cain is the Director of Education for a Boston-area vocational college and frequently lectures on the military and social influences of April 19, 1775. He owns the critically acclaimed blog and podcast “Historical Nerdery.”
1 Carrie E. Bacheller, Munroe Tavern: The Custodian’s Story, (Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Historical Society, date unknown), p. 6-7. 2 A. Bradford Smith, “Kite End,” Lexington Historical Society Proceedings, (Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Historical Society, 1891) Vol. 2, p. 102. 3 Michael J. Canavan, Canavan Papers, (Lexington, Massachusetts: Self Published, 1910), Vol. 1, p. 136. 4
Welcome to Little Women Spring, the decennial collaboration between The Concord Players and Orchard House that culminates in a presentation of the play Little Women, based on the novel of the same name. It may seem odd, the pairing of these two Concord-based organizations, but their connection goes way back.
Orchard House was, of course, the home of the Alcott family, and specifically where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set her iconic novel, Little Women. In that novel, the March sisters write and perform theatricals – just as the Alcott sisters did when growing up. Louisa actually considered a life in the theater, writing plays and performing locally. In fact, she and her sister Anna helped found The Concord Dramatic Union here in town. It’s where Anna Alcott met her future husband, John Pratt, acting out a love scene from the play The Loan of a Lover. The Concord Dramatic Union became the Concord Dramatic Club, which in 1919 became The Concord Players.
That origin story is why the Players feel such kinship with Orchard House, and why every ten years they perform a play based on the novel Little Women. It is in fact their
Wpassion play, first performed in 1932 to commemorate the 100th birthday of Ms. Alcott. In that production the role of Mr. March was played by Concord resident and Alcott descendant Bronson Alcott Pratt. World War II prevented the performance in 1942, but it returned in 1952 with Nancy B. Ellis, sister of future president George H.W. Bush, playing a part. It has been performed every ten years since, until Covid pushed the 2022 performance to 2023. Notably, Orchard House director Jan Turnquist played the role of Marmee in three separate productions: 1992, 2002, and 2012, further cementing the connection.
As part of Little Women Spring, the Players hosted a film festival of four of the Little Women films, starting with the 1933 version featuring Katharine Hepburn, and culminating with the 2019 version filmed partly here in Concord. Fittingly, the festival took place at the School of Philosophy, on the grounds of Orchard House, on the four Thursday evenings in February. Several of the benches in that building were built and used for the most recent film. On March 19, the Players will host a tea at their space at 51 Walden to celebrate Louisa May and
her iconic novel; it will feature finger sandwiches, tiny pastries and light entertainment.
All of which leads to the crowning event, the performance of the 2005 Broadway musical version of this story, onstage at 51 Walden, home of the theatrical company descended from Louisa May and her contemporaries. It will run weekends from April 28 through May 13.
The Concord Players and Orchard House welcome everyone to take part in Little Women Spring by attending any or all of these events. For information, including how to get tickets or to volunteer, please go to the Players website at concordplayers.org.
Stefanie Cloutier is a longtime Concord resident and writer of plays and nonfiction. She is a Town Tour Guide, a coordinator for Concord Carlisle Adult & Community Ed, and a member of The Concord Players.
IIt’s six o’clock in the morning and you just heard a loud boom pierce the silence as dawn breaks on a crisp spring day in Concord. If you’re new to town you probably just spilled your coffee. But if you’re a longtime resident, you just smile and say to yourself, “the Battery is back.”
The Concord Independent Battery is a symbol of Concord’s rich revolutionary history. Founded in 1804, it is America’s oldest ongoing active horsedrawn artillery unit. Its two six-pound brass cannons are the focal point of the group’s mission; but you may ask where those cannons came from. They trace back to late 1774, when the Massachusetts Committee of Safety ordered several cannons to be secreted out of Boston and hidden from the British in the countryside. In January 1775, the Committee ordered that two brass cannons belonging to the provincial militia be sent to Concord. Several weeks later, Concord’s Town Meeting voted to form an artillery unit. We all know what happened on that fateful day just three months later – April 19, 1775 – when British regulars who had marched to Concord to find the hidden munitions were defeated by minutemen and militias from Concord and surrounding towns at the North Bridge.
Today’s Battery got its start in February 1804 as the Concord Artillery when the Massachusetts Senate, in recognition of the tradition of cannons in Concord, resolved to form an artillery unit from citizens of Concord to maintain two brass field pieces. Just eight years later, the Battery was called to active duty in the War of 1812 and sent to guard the entrance to Boston Harbor from British warships. When the war ended, the men of Concord continued to fire the cannons and
parade on April 19, starting a tradition that continues today. In 1846 new cannons were commissioned from the Watervliet Arsenal in upstate New York, as the original guns were no longer safe. The new cannons, still used today, bear the same inscription as the originals:
The Legislature of Massachusetts consecrates the names of Major John Buttrick and Captain Isaac Davis, whose valor and example excited their fellowcitizens to a successful resistance of a superior number of British troops at Concord Bridge, the 19th of April, 1775, which was the beginning of a contest in arms that ended in American independence.
Over the years, the State tried several times to retrieve the cannons from Concord. Unwilling to relinquish a key piece of local
history and pride, in 1887 the Town Board of Selectmen petitioned the State to give the cannons to the Town. Shortly thereafter, the Legislature granted its request.
The Battery continued to fire salutes at town celebrations and memorials. In 1898, it welcomed home the Concord Company from the Spanish-American War. It has been a regular presence every Memorial Day. Soon after America’s entry into World War II, many Concordians found themselves again serving overseas, which caused the cannons to go silent; but not for long. When the war ended, dedicated veterans reinvigorated the Battery, restoring it to full engagement in Town ceremonies. The Battery admitted women as Active Members in 1993 and incorporated as a nonprofit historical organization in 1999.
Active members of the Battery train regularly every year to ensure that the cannons are fired safely and correctly. It takes
five cannoneers to fire each cannon, plus a captain to issue commands, a gunner in charge of each gun crew, a timer, and a range safety officer. If you’ve ever stood outside the Old Manse on Patriots’ Day, you’ve heard the captain barking out orders. The gunners echo those commands, which prompt the cannoneers to action. The movements of the cannoneers are precisely choreographed, each crew member in sync with the others, to prepare the cannons, load, and fire them.
Rain or shine, you will find the volunteers of the Battery responding to the call of the Town’s Public Ceremonies & Celebrations Committee to fire the cannons at Concord’s commemorative observances. At the Patriots’ Day parade – the Battery’s showcase
event – the cannons are pulled behind horse-drawn limbers through the streets of Concord, just as they were at the Battery’s inception in 1804. The Battery will also be at the Dawn Salute every April 19, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and at many other patriotic and solemn events.
As its prestige has grown over the years, the Battery has been invited to many tributes outside of Concord. The US Navy asked the Battery to exchange volleys with the USS Constitution – Old Ironsides – at Castle Island, and to fire at the commissioning of the USS Thomas Hudner. The Battery also attended Concord’s 375th anniversary and helped remember the
thousands of Americans who perished in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Today, the Battery’s membership comprises a diverse mix of citizens of Concord and neighboring towns. Many members trace their Battery lineage back to fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins. The pride in being part of the Battery was perhaps best expressed by former Commander Theodore L. Smith who wrote in 1948: “Ever since I can remember the parading and firing of the Battery, the clatter of hoofs, the clanking of chains, the rumble of wheels, the fluttering of the guidon . . . have been for me the most important and thrilling part of Concord celebrations.” That sentiment was true in 1948 and it remains true today.
The Battery cannons still boom regularly through the Concord air to remind us of our ancestors, both in 1775 and in the 248 years since, who gave their lives so that we would be free. As Concord approaches the 250th anniversary of the fight at the North Bridge, the Battery eagerly anticipates joining in the day’s festivities and the chance to again honor those patriotic men and women. We welcome you to join us, both in celebration, and to help perpetuate the existence of the Battery. It is only through the constant renewal of our membership that we are now 219 years old, and as committed as ever. concordbattery.org
Phil Kenney is president, and Bob Eaton, Abby Myette, and Sandy Smith are active members of the Concord Independent Battery.
Have you ever sensed that something bad was about to happen? You don’t know how or why, but it’s as though an ancestral memory is shouting, “Awake! Danger is coming!” So it may have been for three men on April 19, 1775.
Several centuries before, clans Munroe and Mackenzie were two of the most powerful clans in the Scottish Highlands. King James IV of Scotland, seated far away in Edinburgh, relied on allies for news and to carry out his control in the Highlands. Clan Chief William Munroe was one of these allies, and when word reached King James of rebellious behavior by Chief Mackenzie, the King ordered Chief Munroe to punish the Mackenzies. Chief Munroe stealthily led a large force to Mackenzie land where
Hthey attacked the Mackenzies and burned their homes. As the exhausted Munroe forces headed home, word of their attack spread quickly, and Mackenzies descended from across the Highlands. Outnumbered by Munroe’s men, the Mackenzies spread out, surrounding Munroe’s column, and attacked! Ambushed, and with panic raining down as fast as the Mackenzies’ swords, Munroe’s men lost coordination, leading to high fatalities. Fighting between the Munros and Mackenzies continued for years until William’s son Hector married a Mackenzie woman and the clans made peace.
Over the next two centuries, the Scottish throne was seized by the king of England and the Munroe and Mackenzie clans fractured, with some loyal to the new English king and
there will be a road
others pinning the white cockade (ribbon ornament) to their bonnets to display their Jacobite loyalty to displaced Scottish king James Stuart. A direct descendant of William and Hector Munroe was captured by English soldiers and deported to America as an indentured servant. He gained his freedom and became the grandfather of William Munroe of Lexington with whom we pick up this story on a day when Munroes and Mackenzies would find themselves in a dangerous déjà vu.
“I see into the far future…. The day will come when teachers shall
revolutionize the land…
bridge will span the river… [the King’s] broad lands shall pass away to the stranger, and his [reign] shall come to an end.”~Adapted from the Brahn Seer Prophecy of Kenneth Mackenzie, Scotland, seventeenth-century. Reenactor in Lexington
The day was April 19, 1775. Far from the English king in London, loyalist allies in the colonies had been sending messages back to England reporting on the growing rebellious activities of revolutionaries, particularly in Massachusetts, where an uncivilized tea party in 1773 led to the king sending 3,000 more troops and appointing General Thomas Gage as the Military Governor of the upstart colony.
Loyalist spies reported to Gage that the colonists were stashing weapons in Concord to support a continental army. Governor Gage ordered British troops to march to Concord and find and destroy the supplies. The plan was to move in secret, and around midnight on April 18, 1775, a column of nearly 700 British regulars under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith began the march to Concord. But patriot spies had been watching, and ahead of the column, a network of riders galloped through the countryside spreading the alarm to “Awake! The regulars are coming out!” Sensing their cover was blown, a second column of British soldiers was ordered to leave Boston and reinforce Smith’s men, but this column was slow to mobilize.
Up the road in Lexington, William Munroe, a tavern owner and an Orderly Sergeant in the Lexington militia, sensed danger. Fearing for the safety of patriot leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were staying in Rev. Clark’s house, William Munroe summoned eight well-armed men to join him in guarding the house. Just after midnight, Paul Revere galloped into Lexington in search of Hancock and Adams to share the news, but Munroe refused to let him pass until his identity was confirmed. Alerted that the regulars were headed this way, the Lexington minutemen and militia assembled on the town green where they stood at 5:00 am when the king’s troops marched into town. A shot rang out, the shooter unknown; the regulars fired on the colonists, and eight Lexington men fell dead. The king’s troops marched on, following the road stretching from Lexington, through Lincoln, to Concord. Ahead of them rode more patriot messengers!
Around 5:30 am, the meeting house bell in Lincoln began to ring; from house to house, gunshots broke the dawn silence, the prearranged signal for minutemen and militia to gather at once on the town green. Fifty-two-year-old Benjamin Munroe seized his musket and ran to the town green with his son where they learned of the approaching king’s army and the carnage in Lexington. Like William Munroe of Lexington, Benjamin’s grandfather also hailed from the Munroes of the Scottish Highlands. With men from nearly half the households of Lincoln, Benjamin Munroe hurried to Concord, and joined the Concord men assembling on the hill behind the meeting house.
Near 7:00 am, a sea of glittering bayonets was spotted. Vastly outnumbered, the colonists fell back to higher ground above
the North Bridge spanning the Concord River. Here, their numbers swelled as patriot companies from neighboring towns arrived. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Smith ordered the king’s troops to split up to search Concord and secure the bridges. Unbeknownst to Benjamin Munroe and those with him, out of their sight in Concord Center, the king’s troops had found and were burning military supplies. Sparks accidentally set the town house on fire. Benjamin Munroe and the colonists saw heavy black smoke rising from the town. Concord’s Lieutenant Joseph Hosmer cried, “Will you let them burn down the town?” No! To the town!
As Benjamin Munroe and the patriots advanced down the hill to the Concord Bridge, legend says their fifes and drums played the Scottish Jacobite march “The
White Cockade.” At the bridge, they encountered about 100 regulars. Without being ordered, several British soldiers fired on the colonists, killing two and triggering Concord’s Major John Buttrick to shout, “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake, fire!”
Casualties fell on both sides of the bridge; the king’s troops panicked, retreating in a disorderly column to Concord center. There, the now-exhausted British reformed their column and began the long march back to Boston.
By now, word was out and thousands of enraged militia from all over Massachusetts were descending. Arriving in small groups, they were no match for the British column and took up positions wherever they could; taking cover, firing on the British, and then running ahead to reposition. Fierce fighting occurred at Merriam’s Corner in Concord, and “Bloody Angle” in Lincoln. Near 2:00 pm, the column was back in Lexington, where, by now, having regained their footing, William Munroe and the Lexington companies were waiting to strike
revenge. At that moment, marching into Lexington from Boston, came the longawaited British column of reinforcements. In their midst, leading a detachment from His Majesty’s 23rd Regiment of Foot, was Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie. Son of a Scottish merchant whose family hailed from the same Highlands where the Munroes and Mackenzies had fought two centuries ago, this time, Mackenzie found himself and the king’s column on the receiving end of a vengeful ambush from Munroes and colonists. Allowing the exhausted and wounded troops from the first column to get ahead of them, Mackenzie and his unit took up the rear guard, trying to fight off William Munroe’s militia and allies. Wrote Mackenzie, “During the whole of the March from Lexington [back to Boston] the Rebels kept an incessant irregular fire from all points at the Column… [firing] under cover of a stone wall, from behind a tree, or out of a house, and the moment they had fired they lay down out of sight until they had loaded again.”
Fighting and ambushing continued all the way back to Boston. The American Revolutionary War had officially begun. William and Benjamin Munroe survived the war and lived to see American revolutionaries appoint George Washington as president of the new nation. Frederick Mackenzie also survived and sailed home to a vastly smaller English empire. And the Brahn Seer Prophesy of Kenneth Mackenzie was fulfilled again.
The author extends thanks to Lincoln Public Library Librarian Robin Rapoport and Archivist Virginia Rundell for their help in accessing records.
A Concord native, Jaimee Joroff is manager of the Barrow Bookstore in Concord Center, which specializes in Concord history, Transcendentalism, and literary figures. She has been an interpreter at most of Concord’s historic sites and is a licensed town guide.
For a list of sources, email email@example.com.
IIn a significant collaboration, the Concord Free Public Library, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and the Concord Museum are pleased to present “A Perpetual Invitation: 150 Years of Art at the Concord Free Public Library,” hosted by the Concord Museum and on view March 24 through September 4, 2023.
The exhibition features a selection of over twenty-five objects, including some on public display for the first time. Visitors will learn that through the vision of William Munroe, the founding benefactor of the Concord Free Public Library, the Library has been a destination for a unique art collection, as well as books, manuscripts, and other printed material, from its beginnings in 1873.
Munroe’s vision for Concord was exceptional in an era noted for the founding of cultural institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Boston Public Library. Rather than viewing museums and libraries as separate institutions with distinct goals, Munroe sought to combine them into a single public space where the community of Concord could experience art and culture. He even had plans drawn up for an expansion which would include a dedicated art museum.
Munroe hoped to offer artists, donors, and visitors a “perpetual invitation” to explore and expand the Library’s art
collection. Many of the earliest objects donated to the Library came directly from William Munroe himself, but others were gifts from community members. Early donors included Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, Edward W. Emerson, and Anna Alcott Pratt. Eventually, local artists donated their pieces directly to the Library. Thus, the collection was not the result of a single collector’s vision but reflected the numerous people involved in making, acquiring, and donating objects to the Library.
Over the past 150 years, the Library’s collection has continued to develop and evolve in an ongoing collaboration with the Concord community. Exhibition stories and themes will highlight Concord’s art community, local art collectors, the history of institutions promoting public access to works of art, the role of women art dealers,
“A fine building, well adapted to the purpose, would be a perpetual invitation to possessors of Art treasures to consider the wisdom of bestowing them on the public.”-
WilliamMunroe, 1875 letter to the Concord Free Public Library Corporation. Maria Louisa Lander (1826-1923). Bust of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1858. Gift of the Hawthorne Children, 1873 Snell and Gregerson, Architects. Architectural Drawing No. 7 1/2. Ink on paper. Commissioned by William Munroe, 1875.
collectors, and artists, and the stories of specific artists, including May Alcott Nieriker, Alicia Keyes, Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts, and others who lived and worked in Concord.
William Munroe wished to ensure the future of the Library and its collections by establishing the Library Corporation, a charitable corporation created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1873 for the purpose of forming and maintaining a public library in Concord. Each year the Library Corporation contributes for building and grounds, and funded solely through private philanthropy, supports the mission of the William Munroe Special Collections, including its art collection. Most recently, the Corporation completed an extensive
expansion of the Library, adding a new children’s wing, workshop, and lecture space in the Goodwin Forum.
Today, the Concord Free Public Library’s Special Collections holds over 200 pieces of art, including sculptures, paintings, and lithographs, from various artists from Concord and beyond. The collection’s focus is works of art associated with the Town of Concord, whether via the subject, donor, or artist. From portraits of Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott to visions of Concord’s buildings, byways, and bridges, the collection supplements the extensive manuscript and photographic holdings of Special Collections. The Library also continues to promote the
visual arts through a variety of spaces and programming, including rotating exhibitions of community artists in its second-floor art gallery and a new maker space, built in 2022, where local artists can work with a variety of media.
Alongside the exhibition, both the Concord Free Public Library and the Concord Museum are also offering multiple programs including lectures, workshops, gallery talks, and tours of the Library. Please visit their websites for more information. concordlibrary.org concordmuseum.org
Anke Voss is curator of the William Munroe Special Collections at Concord Free Public Library.
Phebe watched out her bedroom window with shock, awe, fear, and trepidation. In his role as Concord militia chaplain, her husband, Rev. William Emerson, had gone out before dawn and was now a half mile away with the rebel forces on Punkatasset Hill. Minutes ago, Frank, an enslaved black man owned by the Emerson family, had burst into her bedroom to inform her that hundreds of British regulars were marching by the house. Phebe was 35 and pregnant as she gathered her four small children around her; little Phebe (8), little William (6), Hannah (5), and the baby, Mary Moody. They huddled together to watch British soldiers march towards the bridge with the rebels on the other side. Things were tense as smoke began to furl up from the village. A shot rang out, and then more shots were heard. The British troops began to run back towards the village, and soon Phebe discovered her life would be turned upside down by the shot heard ‘round the world.
Concord had been a center of resistance to Parliament’s Navigation Acts since at least 1770. In 1773, Concord established a Committee on Correspondence to coordinate resistance to Parliament across the colony and between the American colonies. In January 1774, following the Boston Tea Party, Concord voted to boycott English tea to avoid import taxes. In June 1774, with the arrival of many more British troops, Boston had become an armed military encampment. On August 30, 1774, Concord hosted an illegal county convention of 150 delegates from most of the towns of Middlesex County. Beginning in September 1774, both General Gage and the rebels began a race to capture military armaments in the colony, with many of the rebel supplies being sequestered in Concord. On November 15, 1774, Concord hosted the Second Provincial Congress presided over by John Hancock and Sam Adams. By Christmas, Concord was an
armed camp with several cannons, 100 pounds of cannon balls, hundreds of rifles, 500 pounds of shot, and 420 pounds of gunpowder. These supplies are what the British came to capture.
April 19, 1775, had begun before dawn with the ringing of the bell in the First Parish steeple to call out Concord’s minutemen and militia, who were soon joined by militia from the nearest towns. As militia from more distant towns arrived, the rebel forces grew from a few hundred to 1,800 colonial militia, compared to 790 British regulars sent out to capture or destroy Concord’s military supplies. Throughout the afternoon fighting was fierce. By the end of the day the British suffered 73 killed, 172 wounded, and 26 missing. The rebels suffered 49 dead, 36 wounded, and five missing. This was a completely unexpected outcome from both sides as the British military at that time was considered the finest in the world.
Phebe was born in 1741, the oldest of Rev. Daniel and Phebe Walker Bliss’ nine children, and grew up with enslaved black people to perform domestic duties and farming for their household. Her father, Rev. Daniel Bliss, had been First Parish in Concord’s evangelical minister, but he died of tuberculosis in 1762 when Phebe was just 21. The congregation chose a 21-yearold minister, Rev William Emerson, as their next minister and, as was the custom, he boarded with the widow Bliss until he could get settled. Phebe and William fell in love, married, and had five children together, with William building a Manse beside the Old North Bridge for his growing family. The widow Bliss no longer needed her enslaved servants, so she sent Frank, Cato, and Phyllis to serve her daughter’s busy and growing household at the Manse.
When war broke out, General George Washington located his Continental army on the Harvard campus. As a result, for nine months Harvard College relocated to Concord where their classes were held in the meeting house and students and faculty boarded with various families. Several of the
most serious students spent many hours in the minister’s library at the Manse, the finest library in Concord, especially Harvard senior Ezra Ripley, who grew quite fond of this young minister’s family and the town of Concord. In his role as militia chaplain, Rev. Emerson rode out with the Concord militia to capture Fort Ticonderoga, but while in camp he was exposed to an infectious disease and died in 1776 on his way to return home to Concord.
First Parish needed to choose a new minister, and they chose 27-year-old Ezra Ripley who, in traditional fashion, boarded with the widow Emerson until he could get settled. He, too, fell hopelessly in love with Phebe, even though she was nine years older than him. They soon married and would have three more children of their own. Ripley’s ministry of 63 years would be Concord’s longest, bridging Concord from a self-sustaining agricultural colony of the British Empire to becoming a center of manufacturing and commerce, exporting and finance, drawing much of the growing wealth from Concord’s
involvement in the triangle slave trade. Upon graduating from Harvard, Ezra’s and Phebe’s oldest son Samuel would serve as a tutor on a Virginia slave plantation before settling down as a Unitarian minister in Waltham. Their younger son Daniel moved to Alabama, married a judge’s daughter, and owned a cotton plantation.
The Revolutionary War divided families, with Phebe’s brothers Daniel and Samuel serving with the British army and her brothers Thomas and Joseph serving with the American troops. In his later years, as Phebe’s health declined, Ezra provided opportunities for her grandson Ralph Waldo Emerson to preach from his pulpit and lecture at the Concord Lyceum, ushering in a new period in Concord’s intellectual and cultural history known as the transcendental era. Standing firm against tyrants in defense of liberties is the Concord shot still heard ‘round the world as it has been for nearly 250 years. Modern Concordians are the inheritors of Concord’s fights over generations to defend freedoms.
This article is based upon Rev. Dr. Jim Sherblom’s upcoming book The Stories of Concord.
The annual Concord Museum Garden Tour, organized by the Museum’s Guild of Volunteers, has been a tradition for more than 30 years. Garden Tour participants can visit several of Concord’s most beautiful private gardens on a self-guided tour over two days. This year’s tour will feature six glorious gardens, each special in both its natural setting and in its layout, design, and plant materials.
Tit also nicely incorporates areas for family recreation, including an architectural hot tub/pool.
June 2-3, 2023BY THE CONCORD MUSEUM’S GUILD OF VOLUNTEERS
At the first garden, the owner is the gardener, and her love of the land is evident. An area to the left of the driveway has the grace of a Grecian forum and stands alone in its serenity. This is a mere interlude in what is to follow as you approach the back of the house and see the hill roll down to the river. A former lawn has been improved with a multitude of gardens; two vegetable gardens, a wildflower garden, a pollinator garden, and a white garden, all framing a beautiful view. Another garden was prompted by a wedding in the family and the desire to create a venue that they could enjoy for a lifetime. A lush and creative berm hides the neighborhood beyond while the stone walls create a sculptural hardscape that balances the carefully selected plantings. A garden that is beautiful year-round from every angle,
At the third location, the gardens frame a graceful entrance to this French-inspired home designed by famous Concord architect Harry B. Little. Sophisticated choices in decorative trees and evergreens lead you to the terraced backyard, which features multiple garden rooms, historic stone walls, and an unforgettable view of the long sweep down to the Concord River.
The fourth garden has been blessed to have a noted landscape designer reside there with her many talents, which includes knowing the perfect plant for each of the many gardens that surround the house and the beautiful flat plain. Many areas are shadowed by large billowing stately trees that stand guard like statues over the studied choices. A virtual sampler of all of her tricks of the trade, each garden is not only a botanical composition to behold, but also a lesson of sorts to every gardener lucky enough to witness.
Beside and behind one of Concord’s historic homes lies gardens galore. A deep backyard allows for multiple groupings of rare plants and creates a room surrounded by mature
trees. The garden and the house have a special symbiosis and work together to form a perfect fresh and current landscape while still being historically appropriate. Rather than being cordoned off and entirely separated from the neighboring home, the
gardens here are open and even integrated with the gardens next door.
Our last garden is next door to the home mentioned above and surrounds a historic home that was formerly an art studio and barn. The owner has recently revived the gardens and added several new ones, working with her neighbor to combine their interests in a garden that straddles the two properties, blending the border line and sharing the beauty for both to see. The
gardener has been careful to protect the history of the property but has brought in a new and welcomed freshness.
Tickets to the tour are available starting in March at concordmuseum.org/ events/34th-annual-garden-tour. Ticket booklets, with the garden addresses, can be picked up at the Concord Museum, 53 Cambridge Turnpike, on June 2nd and 3rd, starting at 9 am. Tickets may also be purchased at the Museum on the days of the tour. For more information, visit concordmuseum.org.
See you in the garden!
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On October 11, 1890, eighteen women and four men met in Washington to organize a new society, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). That non-profit, non-political, volunteer women’s service organization now comprises 3,000 chapters and over 185,000 members.
Four years later, the Old Concord Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 12, 1894, by Mrs. Daniel (Harriet) Lothrop, wife of noted Boston publisher Daniel Lothrop. Writing under the pen name Margaret Sydney, Harriet Lothrop was the author and creator of the Five Little Peppers series of books.
The first gathering of the Old Concord Chapter was held at Harriet’s home, The Wayside, formerly the home of Samuel Whitney, Master of the Concord Minute Men; the Alcott family; and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Old Concord Chapter was the sixth to be formed in Massachusetts.
Writing in October 1924, historian and DAR member Effie Rideout reflects that “No town in . . . these United States was more fitted to be the home of a DAR Chapter than our really old town of Concord. Ours was one of the earliest towns to be settled, and it has been rich from its first pioneers, people of strong character, independent thought, and forceful action. Our ancestors were not found wanting.”
At early meetings, papers on the American Revolution were read, and patriotic songs were sung. Reading over the minutes, you can see how the members’ interests broadened into current affairs as women increasingly attained legal and professional status and earned the right to vote. In 1910, for example, the speaker was Mr. Henry Coolidge, whose
subject was “Law Making and Procedure in the Massachusetts Legislature.” Many significant figures in the suffrage movement were also active members of the DAR.
The Old Concord Chapter now includes the towns of Concord, Acton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Maynard, Stow, Littleton, and many others and has 135 members. To become a member of the DAR, one must be related to an ancestor who made a positive contribution to America during the Revolutionary War, either as a member of the militia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a member of a rebel town government, and or as an individual who offered patriotic service.
The DAR, including the Old Concord Chapter, has long supported veterans
through the Veterans Service Committee. In 1917, members of the Old Concord Chapter visited Fort Devens to do mending for the soldiers, and after the First World War, the national DAR took part in the restoration of Tilloloy in France. Presently, the Old Concord Chapter, under the leadership of Regent Janine Penfield, is involved in collecting greeting cards and comfort items to be sent to veterans in the VA hospital in Bedford. Each September, the Old Concord Chapter presents a Constitution Week display at Concord Free Public Library, and recently awarded a Historic Preservation Grant to the Boxborough Historical Society.
Currently, the Old Concord Chapter is gearing up for the 250th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord when they will join with the Town of Concord, the state of Massachusetts, and the entire nation to remember and honor those who fought for our freedom.
For more information on the DAR or to use its free Genealogical Research System, visit oldconcorddar.org.
Christine Chamberlain is a principal with Camden Writers, a company that produces histories and memoirs for individuals and businesses. A graduate of Wellesley College, she makes her home in Maine and Marblehead.
On August 31, 1922, Headmistress Elsie Garland Hobson placed an advertisement in the New York Times
It read: “Concord Academy: A small boarding and day school for girls in the historic town of Concord, Mass., situated on the beautiful Samuel Hoar estate. The school life is planned to develop the qualities of initiative and self-reliance, to stimulate intellectual curiosity, and to give a thorough preparation for college.” She concluded with an offer to mail a catalog and an invitation to write to her directly for additional information. Among the items that the school asked matriculating girls to pack: a hot water bag, bloomers, and heavy walking shoes for tramping.
Now, Concord Academy (CA) is celebrating its 100th academic year— our Centennial—which will conclude at commencement on May 26. In mid-June, we will welcome alums for reunion and also for our Centennial Celebration. Graduates from many professions will offer the CA community their insight on journalism, environmentalism, and many other subjects that affect and enhance our lives.
For us, it’s a monumental moment to acknowledge our inception as a girls’—now, all-gender—independent school in the town where the Revolutionary War started; where Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and wrote; and where CA has supported students who have become college presidents and
Oprofessors, National Book Award recipients, NASA scientists, and leaders in virtually every realm.
A few highlights from the history books:
1. The school’s initial statement of purpose—what we now call a mission statement—included “[the development of] self-reliance and the social qualities of cooperation, sympathetic insight, and helpfulness.” These ideas and proclivities remain central to the character of CA.
2. The late Ruth Brooks Drinker ’31, a Concord native, wrote about CA’s early years in her memoir. She noted that every girl sang in the chorus and that many of her contemporaries credited the music program with their lifelong appreciation of classical music. In spring 2023, CA is breaking ground on its Centennial Arts Center, which will give the arts on campus a new and spectacular home to honor its past, present, and future strengths.
3. A CA through line is its emphasis on common trust, which has been part of the culture and conversations for decades. CA graduate Ben Stumpf ’88 returned as
a faculty member in 2002. “I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t believe that the values I took away in the 1980s still hold true…CA remains a culture that encourages respect for each person’s unique passions, beliefs, abilities, and voice.”
While we celebrate our textured, unusual, and storied history—our first 100 years—we are looking toward what’s next. As Concord Academy moves into its second century, led by 11th Head of School Henry D. Fairfax, we amplify the values of a school that upholds creativity, possibility, trust, collaboration, and optimism. These are values that we hold in common with the town and people of Concord, a community that has both contained and expanded upon so much of what CA has become.
“Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past.”
—T.S. Eliot, 1947 Commencement Speaker, From “Burnt Norton”Anecdotes and quotes are excerpted from Concord Academy at 100: Voices From the First Century, authored by longtime CA faculty member and administrator Lucille Stott.
Concord Land Conservation Trust’s mission is to preserve and protect open space in Concord in perpetuity. Currently, the Trust owns more than 900 acres in Concord and holds conservation restrictions on an additional 265 acres. The Trust’s largest property, Wright Woods, consists of over 300 acres surrounding Fairhaven Hill. The land is bordered by the Sudbury River, the Walden Pond Reservation, and Fairhaven Bay and offers some of the most beautiful walks and vistas in Concord.
Wright Woods is remarkable in part because it is surrounded by other preserved open spaces. In addition to the waterways just mentioned, the Woods borders or lies close to the Town of Concord’s Town Forest and Adams Woods conservation land, the Conantum common land, lands preserved by the Walden Woods Project, and conservation land in Lincoln. The ecological and conservation value of Wright Woods is greatly enhanced by the integral part it plays in the heart of this much larger protected natural landscape, which totals well over 2,000 acres.
Concord Land Trust did not acquire Wright Woods in one piece, and neither
did the woman who donated most of it to the Trust. Over approximately fifty years, George Frederick Robinson (1860-1949) and his daughter Helen Robinson Wright (1889-1978) acquired almost 240 acres near Fairhaven Bay. When the Land Trust was created in 1959, with Mrs. Wright’s help, she donated over thirty-four acres. Her generous gifts continued over the years until her death, when she left the Bay House (now removed) and its stone boathouse (still standing) and the nearby “Staples Camp” to the Trust in her will. The two houses at Staples Camp are currently rented by the Trust to descendants of the Robinson family.
Additional gifts added to Wright Woods include those from Eric Parkman Smith, Mary Thompson, and Eunice Knight. The most recent was Mary Seton Abele’s donation of thirtythree acres on Fairhaven Hill. The Hill, once open farmland with an orchard of 300 peach and apple trees, is occupied
today by several homes and is surrounded by woods and walking trails.
Interesting sites abound in Wright Woods. After the Civil War, a water park was created on the west shore of Walden Pond. A ropewalk footbridge over the railroad tracks by the Pond connected the beach to a bicycle racetrack and fairgrounds in what is now Wright Woods. The park burned down in
1902, but a trace of the racetrack can still be discerned in the Woods.
This was not the first fire in the Woods. In 1844, after fishing in Fairhaven Bay, Henry David Thoreau and his friend Edward Hoar built a fire in a tree stump near the Bay to cook fish chowder. The wind blew an ember from the fire into the dry woods, and the two men were unable to stop the fire from spreading. After running to town to alert the authorities, Thoreau watched the fire from the impressive Fairhaven Cliffs. The fire consumed over 300 acres and earned Thoreau the sobriquet “woods-burner” in Concord.
The most recent fire in the area occurred in 2019 when the house that Charles Francis Adams III, a great-grandson and great-great-grandson of two U.S. presidents, built on Fairhaven Hill in 1899 burned down. The house (which has since been reconstructed) was visible from a trail traversing private property along the Sudbury River connecting the Land Trust’s Wright Woods with the Town of Concord’s Robinson Well.
One of the most pleasant walks in Wright Woods parallels the Sudbury River; it enters from land owned by the Walden Woods Project off Sudbury Road and connects to the Wright Woods through private property. After reaching the Woods near the Fairhaven Cliffs, the trail ascends a hill where a log bench offers a view of the Sudbury River and the Conantum common land. Trails then run to a knoll on Fairhaven Bay, called Fairhaven Overlook, the site of the former Bay House. G. Fred Robinson first built a summer camp here in 1888, which was replaced in 1933 after a fire burned down the original. The site commands what may be the most beautiful view in Concord. Today, all that remains of the house are stone walls and a large terrace that overlooks Fairhaven
Bay, a charming boathouse and, across the Bay, “Scout Island,” a favorite canoe stopping point, donated to the Land Trust in 1981 by Edwin D. Brooks Jr. With the assistance of a generous grant, the Land Trust has recently made improvements to the Overlook, such as removing invasive plants and planting a mix of native tree and shrub species, including white oaks, gray birches, and American hazelnut. A hill rising to the west of the site offers another striking view of the Bay and
loop through Lincoln’s Adams Woods, or turn right to where the trail soon divides to go south to Fairhaven Bay or loop north toward Arena Terrace. The trail looping north was recently renovated by a Land Trust volunteer project in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain Club.
The sheer size of Wright Woods and the surrounding protected land means that visitors who are not well acquainted with the Wright Woods are advised to bring along a
contains a memorial stone in honor of Nat Marden, the Land Trust’s former Property Manager and a grandson of Helen Wright.
Another series of very pleasant trails starts near Arena Terrace. Park on Arena Terrace and proceed to the Land Trust kiosk near the mailbox for 160 Arena Terrace. From the kiosk, a trail crosses the gravel road and heads southeast to Walden Pond (the road is closed to cars except for residents of the houses at Staples Camp).
From Walden, a trail heads southwest past a lovely series of glacier kettle holes known as the Andromeda Ponds. After passing the Andromeda Ponds, visitors can turn left to
trail map or take a photo of the map at the entry kiosk. The network of trails can be confusing even for persons who have visited Wright Woods on multiple occasions, and cell phone coverage is spotty.
The solitude and tranquility of Wright Woods and the surrounding waterways make it a special place. A trail map and more information are available at concordland.org, and new members joining the Concord Land Trust receive the Trust’s 22-page Trail Guide.
IIt is old and sometimes creaky. Like most of us, it has weathered many storms but is stronger for the wear. And like all of us, it has evolved over a lifetime. One hundred and thirty-five years of history have taken place at its doorstep and within its walls, shaping an identity that is vital to the life of the Town.
In fact, the building at 51 Walden Street is so constant, so enduring, so intimately connected to the lives of the people of Concord, that it sometimes seems a living thing: a grande dame; a cherished elder with wisdom to impart; a friendly neighbor ready to offer a warm welcome. And while we know that a collection of wood and stone, and paint and nails and glass can never speak a word, we also know that from this historic place, many stories have unfolded. We begin.
The Queen Anne style chosen for the building’s design in 1887 by Concord architect John Chapman was a fitting choice for a Town with such a distinguished history.
The graceful Romanesque arch offers an elegant welcome to visitors, belying the building’s original purpose as an armory and a drill shed. In 1912, the building was damaged by fire, prompting community members to rally and repair it. By 1920 it was fully operating again, and the Town renamed it the Veterans Building.
During the building’s early years, the Concord Dramatic Union, founded in 1857 by Louisa May Alcott, continued to mount performances around Concord. By 1921, they had moved their productions to the structure at 51 Walden with their new name, The Concord Dramatic Club. Soon after, in 1922, with the help of eminent Boston architect C.H. Blackall, the Dramatic Club built a stage worthy of Louisa’s prowess as a playwright and performer. It was modeled after the stage of the Colonial Theater in Boston and included a fly tower with a proscenium arch. A raked stage from back to front (state-
of-the-art at the time) made it easier for audiences to view performances.
For the next 50 years, 51 Walden would be home to local thespians and would house myriad community activities. The Concord Minutemen and the American Legion had offices in the building. Friendly local canines took training lessons at the site, while Boy Scout meetings and a youth center were also at home inside 51 Walden.
For 50 years, the sturdy old structure stood steadfast despite the wear and tear from constant use. But in 1958, it was stooped and tired; and loyal service notwithstanding, slated for demolition. Happily, the vote at the Town Meeting was insufficient to tear down those venerable walls. The Concord Dramatic Club (soon to be the Concord Players) continued to stage performances inside the building despite the disrepair, and the youth club continued to meet, all with an optimism that only “show people” and young people can project.
Perhaps it was the energy of those performers’ footfalls, vibrating with life against the boards. Or the echo of Alcott’s hearty spirit which imbued the Town with inspiration. Maybe it is the affection we feel for a place that has housed our shared memories, connecting us to each other. Whatever the reason, 51 Walden survived and by 1972, that wood and stone and paint and nails and glass became animated with the spirit of all who’d passed through its doors and was redeemed.
The Town of Concord is blessed with a surfeit of artists, writers, philosophers, scientists, and thinkers—people who don’t eschew convention but can embellish it; people who value history and use it to inspire innovation. It was these, the citizens of Concord, who gave 51 Walden its new and lasting purpose.
In 1972, they formed the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord (FOPAC) and incorporated it as a 501(c)(3) Massachusetts charity. Through FOPAC, they would renovate the building and operate it as a center for the performing arts. The people once again rallied around their grande dame, raising funds to refit the lobby, build a dance studio, and reconfigure the building for its new purpose.
FOPAC flourished. The Concord Orchestra and the Concord Band joined the Concord Players, giving regular performances and adding to the cultural enrichment of the Town. In 2007, the building was named to the National Historic Register.
Over the years, the resident performing arts groups, with support from the Town and local grantmakers, have made additional improvements to the building; a reinforced performance stage, a music stage, a green room, a wood shop, sound equipment, and all the pedestrian improvements needed to keep a building heated and a roof from leaking.
The building is now home to three resident performing arts groups, two dance schools, and an opera company. A gallery in the lobby displays the work of local artists. Nearly 500 people come to the building each week for rehearsals and dance classes. This diverse group includes three-year-old ballerinas, ballroom dancers, musicians, and performers of all ages creating art for its own sake. Audiences for performances frequently number 300 or more. The Concord Orchestra, the Concord Band, and the Concord Players stage dozens of shows annually while weddings, holiday celebrations, and even memorial tributes all contribute to the life and spirit of this cherished resource. In 2015, FOPAC became 51 Walden—new name, same mission.
In 2017, the Town rallied again when the old bones of 51 Walden began to rattle. Recognizing that art in all its forms is indispensable to the human experience, the tenants at 51 Walden collaborated in a capital campaign to make 51 Walden accessible to everyone. As they always have, citizens of the Town responded with contributions from $25 to $50,000. Grants from the Cultural Council, the Community Preservation Fund,
and the Metrowest Foundation added to the coffers. Now the building boasts a portable lift to provide access to both stages, new and accessible bathrooms, updated exits, and a wheelchair ramp that is up to code. Still to come are a new ventilation system and air conditioning.
Carole Wayland, Concord resident and executive director of 51 Walden, has said that she can think of no more “joyous purpose” than that of 51 Walden. Her observation reflects the remarkable evolution the building has experienced, from its original purpose as an armory to its present celebration of the arts.
Music, dance, drama, and opera are all a part of the ceaseless, collective striving for the ineffable that makes us whole. These and all that is human are embraced within the walls of 51 Walden. Old, yes. Creaky, indeed. But joyous, always joyous.
Linda McConchie has been an active member of the Concord Players for over 20 years serving as a board member, performer, props master, and set dresser, among other roles. Her professional background is in politics, cultural tourism, and marketing.
Three Stones Gallery offers an eclectic and inspiring diversity of artists and artistic mediums this spring and summer. From traditional oil landscape and mixed media collage to documentary photography and repurposed metal sculpture, we invite you to immerse yourself in our full array of excellent artwork. Check the gallery website for detailed listings of our shows.
32 Main Street Concord, MA 978.371.1333
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Experience sustainable farm to table cuisine right here in West Concord. Choose from fine dining at Woods Hill Table or relaxed, casual Mexican cuisine at Adelita!
Experience sustainable farm to table cuisine right here in West Concord. Choose from fine dining at Woods Hill Table or relaxed, casual Mexican cuisine at Adelita!
For more information, or to make a reservation, visit: www.woodshilltable.com www.adelitaconcord.com
For more information, or to make a reservation, visit: www.woodshilltable.com www.adelitaconcord.com
We hope to see you soon!
We hope to see you soon!
Outdoor dining and curbside takeout available.
P“Perhaps some of these summers we may see a band of pilgrims coming up to our door…”1 Louisa May Alcott wrote in 1874 to the Lukens sisters, five girls living in Pennsylvania who had begun a pen pal correspondence with their favorite author. Yet despite the invitation, none of the sisters came to Massachusetts in Alcott’s lifetime. In July 2022, I am the pilgrim instead, threading through the apple trees in front of a familiar brown three-story house in Concord, making my way to Alcott’s home for the first time.
Although I have studied Alcott for over 10 years, developed a podcast about her life, and given presentations at museums and libraries, this is the first time I have visited the places most closely linked to her life. Until now, Concord existed only on the page, a place built of letters and words rather than earth, wood, and brick. Logically, I knew it was out there; Massachusetts, while a good distance from my Wisconsin home, is not impossible to reach. Yet because I am separated from Alcott by the distance of time, the places where she lived, worked, walked, and wrote had always seemed inaccessible to me as well.
Still, here I am on a sweltering summer morning in the town where Alcott lived most of her adult life, intent on following her as closely as I can. Of course, no place can be exactly replicated, no pilgrimage can transport me back in time. Standing in front of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House Museum, I hear cars zipping past on Lexington Road and a lawn mower growling in the distance, both belonging to a soundscape Alcott never knew. Yet the road still follows the same route she walked to catch the train to Washington, D.C. to serve as a nurse during the Civil War, wondering when she would return. The house I’m about to enter is the same as the one she called “Apple Slump,” the house that “summer, pictures, books, and ‘Marmee’ made…lovely,” now as famous as Alcott herself.2
As I walk through Orchard House, stories from her letters and journals unspool before me. In the kitchen I recall the letter she wrote to her friend Alf Whitman about how the cat climbed up her back, causing her to trip over the poker and spill the rice pudding that “none of us like,” while her sister May “set
up a cry of victory and danced about the mournful ruins.”3 Standing here, the scene transforms from a written anecdote into a vivid memory. In this house, she recovered from typhoid fever, the abolitionist John Brown’s family visited, Frank Sanborn’s students sang and danced the nights away, filling the rooms with music. Here is where she read the draft of her first novel, Moods, to her family after weeks of non-stop writing in her room, elated “to have my three dearest sit up till midnight listening with wide-open eyes…”4 I look around, wondering where they sat, imagining the dark house lit with flames and words. Upstairs in Alcott’s bedroom, the owl May drew on the mantel and the calla lilies painted on the wall still guard the place where she wrote Little Women, her most beloved novel. I pause in the hallway, curious to see if I can feel her here, but instead of spirits, all I sense are stories, the ones she wrote and the ones she lived.
During my week in Concord, Alcott’s life is mappable, her paths traceable. I learn not by reading, but by walking and following, observing distance and space, smell and touch. Downtown, I pass the Italianate brick Town Hall building on Monument Square where Alcott voted in the school committee election of 1880, the first in town to allow women voters. I take pictures of the Thoreau-Alcott house on Main Street where she held suffrage meetings, started a Temperance Society, and where her beloved mother Abigail died. My family and I swim at Walden Pond as Alcott did with her sisters and friends, and see Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home on Lexington Road, whose library Alcott frequented when she lived at Hillside (now the Wayside), just down the street. After years of reading about Emerson’s influence on her life, seeing the location of both houses helps me better understand how the short distance between them made possible a steady flow of Emerson’s books and ideas to an impressionable teenage Alcott. I climb the stairs to the attic bedroom of the red farmhouse at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts, where she lived in her father’s utopian community when she was ten and eleven. In her journals, a young Alcott recorded many nights in that space, watching the moon, listening to the
rain, reciting poetry, and crying from anxiety and exhaustion. The sorrows of the room hang as heavy as the heat and after only a few moments, I turn to go.
My pilgrimage continues down a flight of stairs and through a glass door into the William Munroe Special Collections at Concord Free Public Library. My stomach twists in excitement as a librarian carefully pulls out archival boxes and file folders containing original chapters of Little Women and Frank Merrill’s 1880 illustrations for the novel with Alcott’s comments on the back. Her handwriting blooms from the pages. Penciled at the bottom of a Little Women chapter is the note “Saved by
mother’s desires”; on an illustration of the March sisters, she wrote, “Good, but Jo is always made to look too old for her years.” Time folds in on itself as I turn over pages she once held, the distance between us shrinking with a few pieces of paper.
At Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, my family and I place a pen beside Alcott’s marker. An American flag flutters
in recognition of her Civil War service. I kneel there for a few moments but do not linger. Quietly, I greet her family buried next to her, then I wander down the cemetery’s paths crisscrossed by tree roots, stones hidden around corners. The place is a labyrinth of stories. Alcott came here too, for Thoreau’s burial, for her sister Lizzie’s and her mother’s. This was the place where she said goodbye to the people she loved. “Death never seemed terrible to me,” she wrote to her friend Maggie Lukens in 1884. “If in my present life I love one person truly… I believe that we meet somewhere again, though where or how I don’t know or care, for genuine love is immortal.”5 As I make my way to Emerson’s grave, I don’t think of her buried under a stone. I imagine her standing where I am now, listening to the trees creak in the wind, our steps overlapping as we both turn and journey on.
Jill Fuller (she/her) is a librarian, writer, and mother living in Wisconsin. Fuller is the co-creator and co-host of Let Genius Burn, a podcast exploring the life and legacy of Louisa May Alcott.
1 Louisa May Alcott, The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott, ed. by Joel Myerson, Daniel Shealy, & Madeleine B. Stern. (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 177. 2 Ibid., 228. 3 Ibid., 47. 4 Louisa May Alcott, The Journals of Louisa May Alcott, ed. by Joel Myerson, Daniel Shealy, & Madeleine B. Stern. (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1997), 104. 5 Alcott, The Selected Letters, 279.
FFor the first time in 200 years, Concord will publicly honor and celebrate the birth of one of its most inspirational daughters, Ellen Garrison.
Ellen was born in Concord in 1823, the daughter of the self-emancipated Jack Garrison, and granddaughter of the formerlyenslaved revolutionary soldier Cesar Robbins. That same year, Ellen’s uncle, Peter Robbins, a first-generation freeborn man, purchased what is now known as The Robbins House. Peter and his wife lived in one half of the house, and Ellen’s family lived in the other.
A 12-year-old Ellen participated in the 1835 Concord bi-centennial parade. The only black child in her school, Ellen had been ill-treated and ‘crowded out’ of a previous parade, so her mother had reservations about her marching in this one. But standing together with her classmate Abba Prescott, Ellen chose to walk “through the day, beneath the gaze of curiosity, surprise, ridicule and admiration.”
Ellen’s mother, Susan (Robbins) Garrison, was a founding member of the Concord Female Antislavery Society, which was formed during the time that Frederick Douglass visited the town to give antislavery lectures. Susan was actively involved in the struggle for securing rights for all, and certainly inspired her daughter. In 1838, both women’s names appeared alongside 200 other Concord women on a petition protesting the government’s treatment of the Cherokee people.
Ellen went on to work as a teacher in the Freedman’s Schools and served as a powerful activist around local and national
questions demanding civil rights for all people. She said in a letter to the American Missionary Association as part of a teacher application:
“I have a great desire to go and labor among the Freedmen of the South. I think it is our duty as a people to spend our lives in trying to elevate our own race. Who can feel for us if we do not feel for ourselves, and who can feel the sympathy that we can, who are identified with them?”
Ellen was also the first person to challenge the Civil Rights Act of 1866 in court, thus later earning the nickname “Concord’s Rosa Parks.” Just a month after this Act was passed, Ellen (together with another black teacher) was forcibly ejected from a segregated waiting room in a Baltimore train station. Ellen described the situation in a letter on May 9, 1866:
“An outrage has just occurred which demands attention. It was nothing less than the forcible ejection of myself and Miss Anderson from the Ladies sitting room at the depot. We were thrown out. We were injured in our
persons as well as our feelings for it was with no gentle hand that were assisted from that room and I feel the effects of it still.”
Having none of it, Ellen returned to the segregated waiting room, found a witness, and documented the experience to support a petition to the court for her rights. Unfortunately, the Maryland court dismissed her case – a common theme of the Reconstruction era. Nonetheless, Ellen Garrison’s bravery planted a stake in the ground for civil rights.
Ellen would continue her life’s work of teaching newly liberated people and their children. Her work took her from Concord to Boston, Rhode Island, Maryland, Kansas, and finally Pasadena, California where she spent the rest of her life.
This April 14, Concord will honor Ellen Garrison on the 200th anniversary of her birth with events at the Holy Family Parish/ First Universalist Church and at the Concord Town House. For detailed information, go to visitconcord.org.
Concord has many historic sites of interest. Below is contact information for each, along with their hours of operation. Please check the website before visiting, as sites may be closed on holidays or for private events.
CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY concordlibrary.org
Main Branch: 129 Main Street (978) 318-3300
Tuesday through Thursday: 9am–8pm
Friday and Saturday: 9am–5pm Sunday: 1pm-5pm (except Easter Sunday)
Special Collections: 129 Main Street (978) 318-3342
Monday: 10am–6pm Tuesday through Friday: 9am–5pm Saturday and Sunday: Closed
Fowler Branch: 1322 Main Street (978) 318-3350
Monday-Friday: 10am-6pm Saturday: 10am-5pm
CONCORD MUSEUM concordmuseum.org
53 Cambridge Turnpike (978) 369-9763
Through March 26:
Starting March 28:
Open Monday Holidays
CONCORD VISITOR CENTER visitconcord.org
58 Main Street (978) 318-3061
As of April 1: Open every day 10am-4pm Restrooms open 7am-7pm daily
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S ORCHARD HOUSE louisamayalcott.org
399 Lexington Road (978) 369-4118
Weekdays & Saturdays 10am-5pm; Sundays 11am-5pm
Closed Easter Sunday; open at noon on Patriots’ Day
MINUTE MAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK nps.gov/mima/ planyourvisit/minuteman-visitor-center.htm
250 N. Great Road (Lincoln) (781) 674-1920
Grounds are open year-round from sunrise to sunset
The Visitor Center opens May 7. Open every day from 9am-5pm
THE NORTH BRIDGE AND VISITOR CENTER nps.gov/mima/ planyourvisit/ north-bridge-visitor-center.htm
174 Liberty Street (978) 369-6993
Grounds are open year-round from sunrise to sunset
The Visitor Center opens May 7. Open every day from 9am-5pm
OLD HILL BURYING GROUND visitconcord.org/listings/old-hillburial-ground
2-12 Monument Square
Open daily: 7am–5pm
THE OLD MANSE thetrustees.org/place/the-old-manse
269 Monument Street (978) 369-3909
Through April 14: Saturday and Sunday, 11am-5pm
From April 15th: Open every day except Tuesdays, 11am-5pm
THE RALPH WALDO EMERSON HOUSE ralphwaldoemersonhouse.org
28 Cambridge Turnpike (978) 369-2236
Reopening April 27
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 10am-4:30pm Sunday: 1pm-4:30pm
THE ROBBINS HOUSE robbinshouse.org
320 Monument Street (978) 254-1745
Effective May 26: open six days a week from 11am-4pm. Closed on Tuesdays
SLEEPY HOLLOW CEMETERY, INCLUDING AUTHORS RIDGE concordma.gov/1956/ Sleepy-Hollow-Cemetery
120 Bedford Street (978) 318-3233
Open daily: 7am–7pm
SOUTH BURYING GROUND concordma.gov/1958/SouthBurying-Ground
Main Street and Keyes Road
WALDEN POND STATE RESERVATION mass.gov/locations/walden-pond-statereservation
915 Walden Street
Open daily – see website for hours
THE WAYSIDE nps.gov/mima
455 Lexington Road (978) 369-6993
Call for hours and events
After an initially cautious re-emergence of its audiences post-pandemic, The Umbrella Arts Center this year has been buzzing with activity, sold-out events, and excitement as it celebrates its 40th anniversary season. Because COVID shut The Umbrella down within mere months of reopening in the fall of 2019 following years of renovation, many visitors are only now astonished and delighted to discover the vibrant theater experiences housed in this newly constructed gem right in the heart of historic Concord Center.
Entering through The Umbrella Main Art Gallery and a Studio wing lined with
Aprofessional Umbrella Stage Company, national headliner concerts, and more.
The Umbrella Mainstage Theater 144 is a meticulously thought-out space boasting a large, curved proscenium stage, a fly system for dozens of scenic and lighting elements, and three sections of stadium-style seating designed for comfort (thick cushions and cupholders), accessibility, and great sightlines. Recent theatergoers called it “a spectacular venue” and “a really cool place to go see a play or a concert [with] not a bad seat in the house!”
The sophisticated lighting system offers a range from simple stage lighting to production-level design. The top-of-the-line sound system installed by ATR Treehouse pairs perfectly with the acoustics designed by Accentech that have been built into the space itself, perfect for big showstopping musicals and small intimate concerts by such headliners as Lyle Lovett, Indigo Girls, Lake Street Dive, and Ben Folds.
Upstairs, the second-floor Black Box is a more intimate, immersive, and flexible setting for performances, workshops, lectures, or events. This 40’ x 40’ theater offers modular risers that can be used for seating or packed away to open up the space. Designed to be especially versatile, the Black Box is a transformable space that can be altered with lighting, sound, or with the builtin film projector.
artwork by more than 55 working artists, the bright, eco-friendly atrium of the renovated 1929 Emerson School gives way to The Umbrella’s state-of-the-art 344-seat main stage theater and a 100-seat black box. Designed by OMR Architects as part of a $25M overall construction project, this ground-up rebuild was completed in the fall of 2019 to house its newly minted
The digital Orchestra Room is located below and behind the house seats, with the conductor and stage performers connected via large-scale video monitors and digitally channeled music for 16 musicians. The completely sound-proofed room has acoustics perfect for doubling as a recording facility for radio, audio podcasts, and virtual concerts. Backstage, the Main Green Room and the Dance Studio offer high-quality amenities for all performing arts needs, so the space has also been a desirable rental venue for groups ranging from Alexander Children’s Theater to the international Thoreau Society.
Accessibility was at the forefront of the design for the renovated building, and the performing arts spaces are no exception. Both theaters are wheelchair-accessible with ground-level entrances and ramps at the front of the building. ADA wheelchair seating and ADA companion seating is available at various vantage points in the theater, and there is elevator access to the house and backstage areas. Assistive listening devices and large print program materials are available for patrons upon request.
To learn more, visit theumbrellaarts.org
Sarah Shiner is a Boston-based artist and creative. She is also the marketing associate at The Umbrella Arts Center in Concord and works as a freelance designer.
MARCH 31-APRIL 23
MAY 12-JUNE 4
ARTRAGEOUS ART AUCTION
MARCH 23-APRIL 1
SAVE THE DATE RUBY JUBILEE GALA
Something extraordinary happens when women come together around a shared purpose. Whether that purpose be social, political, or artistic, women’s voices carry a history, and their impact wields a transformative power. Concord Women’s Chorus has long known this and has nurtured and celebrated women’s voices since 1960, when a small group of women formed the Concord Madrigals to give women a chance to come together and express themselves through song. In 2005, the Concord Madrigals became the Concord Women’s Chorus. Since then, the group has grown to become a 45-voice ensemble whose performances extend far beyond Concord, with concert tours in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
Artistic Director Jane Ring Frank has led the Concord Women’s Chorus since 1993, and the group now performs a wide range of classical and contemporary music. “Ultimately, the Chorus is about quality music and highlighting gifted composers,” says Jane. Jane’s extensive background in music, including degrees in conductingBY CYNTHIA L. BAUDENDISTEL
Sand collaborative piano, academic work as resident senior scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University, and leadership of the renowned Cantemus Chamber Chorus in Boston provides a strong foundation for the Chorus.
The Chorus performs two concerts each year, one in May and one in December. On May 13, 2023, the Chorus will present Come Day, Come Night. From love songs to boat songs, the concert will celebrate the joy of a well-lived life with stirring works that reflect the textures, rhythms, joys, and challenges of each new day.
Concord Women’s Chorus also presents pieces specifically commissioned for their group, and these are some of Jane’s favorite works. “Commissioned
pieces allow us to further women’s choral art and highlight and support female composers,” says Jane. Grown Wild is the latest special commission (performed in October 2022). Written by composer Melissa Dunphy and poet Melissa Apperson, the work was scored for women’s voices, violin, and piano.
Recruiting younger women is one of the Chorus’ primary goals and singers are welcome to audition yearround. While the Tuesday morning rehearsal schedule may be challenging for some, it is ideal for those who can’t or prefer not to devote another evening away from home.
For Concord Women’s Chorus, music is alchemy. Our commitment to the mastery and performance of a dynamic repertoire for women transforms the act of choral singing into an instrument for collaboration, education, and connection. We are confident singers who care deeply about creating, through women’s voices, a source of strength and inspiration for ourselves, our audience, and the world around us.
Among Concord’s many cultural institutions, the Concord Women’s Chorus is unique, exploring the rich heritage and depth of women’s voices through the ages. For more information or to schedule an audition, please visit concordwomenschorus.org.
Award for Adaptive Reuse: Paine Barn, Middlesex School. The Paine Barn’s evolution from an agricultural building to the home of the Middlesex School Facilities & Operations Team is an outstanding example of sensitively introducing a compatible new use into a historic building.
Concord is one of our nation’s most important historical towns, and preserving that history is the life’s work of many Concordians. Preservation comes in many forms, including protecting the architectural, cultural, and historical integrity of buildings throughout the Town—from The Old Manse to the new house being built on your street. Discover Concord spoke with Annette Bagley, a founding member of the Preservation Awards program, to learn more about the award.
Why is historic preservation important to the Town of Concord?
Historic preservation is essential for the Town of Concord because it helps to retain the community’s unique historic sense of place, which helps stimulate the local economy by attracting visitors. In addition, it’s an inherently eco-friendly practice compared to demolition or new
construction. Preservation and reuse of existing buildings reduce waste in landfills and typically offer more environmental savings than demolition and replacement with new construction. Carl Elefante, former President of the American Institute of Architects, put it succinctly when he coined the phrase, “the greenest building is the one that is already built.”
Why were the Preservation Awards established?
The Awards were established by the Concord Historical Commission (CHC) in 2015 to honor and promote preservation efforts. While the Historic Districts Commission (HDC) oversees the historic districts, the CHC wanted a way to recognize achievements throughout the Town. Many of the nominations we receive are submitted by the HDC. The CHC hoped to present awards every two years, but
due to COVID-related disruptions, the last awards were given in 2018. Awards will be presented again in May 2023.
What does it mean to be awarded a Preservation Award?
Receiving a Preservation Award means that an individual or organization is recognized for contributing to “maintaining and enhancing the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of the Town of Concord.”
Why do you, personally, feel the Preservation Awards are important?
I’ve always had an interest in historic preservation. Owing to all the years I’ve spent living in historic homes and being a member of the CHC, it’s natural for me to want to preserve our Town’s historical and cultural integrity for future generations. The Preservation Awards are a way of celebrating that.
Heritage conservation is a term sometimes used alongside historic preservation, but it’s more about managing change based on the inherited culture. I think it’s important to recognize both the historic preservation of old buildings and landscapes and heritage conservation in new construction. The Preservation Awards account for this. There are six categories
that projects can fall under: Sensitive Addition/Alteration, Adaptive Reuse, Appropriate New Construction, Proper Rehabilitation/Restoration, Landscape Preservation, and Life Achievement.
What are the opportunities and challenges that property owners, architects, and contractors face in safeguarding the Town’s architectural legacy? Some challenges include compliance with modern building codes, sustainability efforts, and meeting the individual needs of property owners. Neighborhood preservation challenges arise when historic homes are demolished and replaced with new homes whose scale and character
contrast with the surrounding neighborhood. I believe there’s an opportunity to spread the relevancy of preservation. Projects that successfully incorporate design preservation, sustainability standards, and building codes serve as exemplary models and inspiration for future preservation work.
Where can we learn more about the Preservation Awards?
The Awards nomination form as well as descriptions and photos of past award winners can be found on the Town of Concord’s website at concordma.gov/1144/ Preservation-Awards.
Does the Town have resources for homeowners considering changes to their homes?
Yes. Concord’s Sustainability Guide for Historic and Older Homes has a wealth of information and can be found online at concordma.gov/DocumentCenter/ View/32578/Sustainability-Guide-forHistoric-and-Older-Homes?bidId=
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
IIn this series, we highlight two of the many artists who contribute to the deep creative culture of Concord. Across town, many organizations are dedicated to uplifting the arts and artists through exhibitions, educational programs, performances, and workspace. Turn to “Arts Around Town” in this issue to learn more about these programs.
Collage artist Fiona Kennedy finds her greatest source of inspiration in color. Harmony, tension, and aggression— Kennedy uses her artistic practice to explore these dynamics that emerge from relationships between colors.
During a painting class at Concord Art that focused on color theory, Kennedy’s teacher, Martha Wakefield, suggested using any extra paint left over on a palette to create color swatches on scraps of paper. “I went home and started mixing my own colors and painting any paper I could find,” Kennedy says. “The papers gave me a chance to move it all around until I found the right balance.”
Through community art classes and exhibitions, Kennedy has “found [her] way back to art in a more focused path” after a career in teaching middle schoolers about ancient civilizations while raising her family. A deep knowledge of ancient history emerges in Kennedy’s artwork at times; ancient Greek and Roman pottery, in particular, “can often be a great reference point for some of my collages,” Kennedy says.
Recently, Kennedy has started creating ceramics as part of her artistic practice. She wants to incorporate shapes from her collage into her ceramics. As Kennedy looks ahead, she feels “really excited about merging collages into a more three-dimensional experience.”JOAN DIX BLAIR
“Printmaking is the language I use to explain the world to myself,” says Joan Dix Blair. Practicing primarily in woodcut and etching, Blair has exhibited her work across the United States and around the globe—from Berkeley, California to Galway, Ireland.
It is the natural world around her home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, however, where Blair finds her inspiration. “I am witness to my habitat,” she explains. As Blair abstracts, simplifies, and ultimately translates the story of the world that she witnesses into her prints, she may shift between gardening, animal watching, and photographing the skies.
Like Kennedy, Blair discovered that community workshops would become integral to her artistic development. In a beginners’ printmaking workshop, Blair says, “I found my medium.” The collaborative environment of these workshops gave her the chance to broaden and hone her technical abilities.
Today, Blair is one of the forty-four artists at Oxbow Gallery, a member-run cooperative in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Previously, she completed three residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and has worked in museum education and fundraising at the Clark Art Institute and MASS MoCA. joandixblair.com
See more of Kennedy and Blair’s work in Fiona Kennedy + Joan Dix Blair at Concord Art March 30 through April 30. Natalie Fondriest is Programs and Communications Manager at Concord Art. concordart.org
51 Walden | concordband.blogspot.com
Enjoy the intimate ambiance of Club 51 for a night to remember with jazz vocalist Amanda Carr. April 14 and 15
BOSTON JAZZ WISDOM
Jazz percussion legend Ra-Kalam Bob Moses leads this all-star jazz concert with Dave Bryant on piano, John Lockwood on bass, and Concord Conservatory’s Tsuyoshi Honjo on saxophone for an evening of lively freespirited jazz. March 24
THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS
The Grammy® Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers blend their passion for the outdoors with Americana Folk music. A great family-friendly concert.
until his recent retirement. This will be a concert to remember! March 18
The American Brass Quintet performs works from the Renaissance to contemporary composers. The quintet, founded in 1960, is internationally recognized as one of the premier chamber ensembles of our time.
CONCORD WOMEN’S CHORUS
81 Elm Street | concordwomenschorus.org
COME DAY, COME NIGHT
CONCORD CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC
1317 Main Street | concordconservatory.org
CONCORD OPEN BLUEGRASS JAMS
The Concord Open Bluegrass Jam is a weekly, community-driven jam session that provides local musicians and music lovers an open space to create music together. Maxfield Anderson leads the group through vocal songs and instrumental tunes from a variety of musical traditions, including bluegrass, old time, classic country and western, blues, swing, and beyond.
If you love bluegrass music, mark your calendar for this concert by Southern Rail, featuring CCM faculty member Rich Stillman on banjo. As the Boston Herald said, Southern Rail gives us, “First rate bluegrass…precise harmonies, sharp instrumental work…soaring and lush.” April 29
CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
129 Main Street | concordlibrary.org
MUSIC FROM THE LIBRARY
David Deveau presents Beethoven’s powerful last three piano sonatas, opus 109, 110, and 111. David is a graduate of New England Conservatory and Juilliard, has performed with major orchestras, and taught at MIT
From love songs to boat songs, CWC’s Spring concert celebrates the joy of a life well-lived. Emma Lou Diemer’s “When You Wake,” Gwyneth Walker’s “Love is a Rain of Diamonds” and “Morning Innocent,” Kevin Siegfried’s “Boat Song,” and Stephen Chatman’s “Love Songs” – stirring works that reflect the textures and rhythms, joys, and challenges of each new day. May 13
51 Walden | concordorchestra.com
THE POWER OF NOSTALGIA
Sixteen-year-old Young Artist Competition winner Lazar Kaminksy performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto. The concert, directed by guest conductor Channing Yu, also features the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Max Bruch. On Saturday, there is a pre-concert talk at 7:00 pm by the conductor followed by a prelude recital by violinist Henry Lee at 7:15 pm. March 25 and 26
Don’t miss this moving concert with guest conductor Nathaniel Meyer and music by Giuseppe Verdi, Gustav Mahler, and Johannes Brahms. Mezzo-soprano Renee Tatum sings Gustav Mahler’s “Rückert Lieder.” Ms. Tatum has performed as soloist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Masterworks Chorale, the Boston Lyric Opera, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. May 20 and 21
during her episodes of chronic migraines. Also featuring new works by represented artists. Now through March 26
Experience the amalgam of two artists coming together in different mediums. Metal sculptor Ray Ciemny reinvents scrap metal into whimsical and edgy forms. Scottish artist John Mackechnie transforms scenes of urban landscapes and vintage cars by combining painting and printmaking. Also featuring new works by represented artists. March 29 – May 7 (reception: April 6)
TERRA FIRMA: AN ARTIST’S METAMORPHOSIS AND A FARM’S LEGACY
Follow Brenda Cirioni’s journey from creating mixed media barns and blazes to her abstract pieces often inspired by her garden. Ellen Harasimowicz’s documentary photographic project of the multi-generational Willard Farm and its owners in Still River, Mass., will inspire you. Also featuring new works by represented artists. May 10 – June 18 (reception: May 20)
THE UMBRELLA ARTS CENTER
40 Stow Street | theumbrellaarts.org
THEATRE CONCORD PLAYERS
51 Walden Street | concordplayers.org
LITTLE WOMEN – THE BROADWAY
51 Walden | opera51.org
Continuing Opera51’s presentations of Puccini’s immensely popular dramatic works, this coming June they will perform Tosca under the artistic direction of Robin Farnsely and conductor Alan Yost. June 9, 10, and 11. Visit their website for more information.
THREE STONES GALLERY
32 Main Street | threestonesgallery.com
This innovative show reminds us of symbols and signposts from the natural world that touch our lives. Lynne D. Klemmer captures playful yet sacred entities in her vibrant abstract works while Bethany Noël depicts the intensity of seeing the natural world
Concord’s traditional Open Studios returns in a new seasonal slot, with the Umbrella Artists sharing their new works, plus technique demonstrations, live music, a Ceramics Studio sale, and more. Welcome spring with a new piece of art! March 18 and 19
ARTRAGEOUS AUCTION AND EXHIBITION
Stop by The Umbrella to view these extraordinary works and then be sure to attend the Gala celebration to bid on your favorites and support The Umbrella. March 20 – April 1
The Umbrella’s Arts & Environment program presents their annual exhibition leading up to the celebration of Earth Day. April 6 - 23
This exhibition of work by international artists explores wide ranging aspects of the climate emergency, offering commentary and creative nature-based strategies. May 1 - Jun 25
Every ten years the Concord Players and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House come together to honor Louisa May Alcott. This year is Louisa’s 190th birthday. Join in the celebration at a tea to be held on March 19 and at the crowning event of the year, the presentation of Little Women – The Broadway Musical. This touching musical tells the beloved story of the March sisters. Romantic Meg, tomboyish Jo, loving Beth, and irascible Amy live in Concord with their Marmee while their father is off in the Civil War. Filled with adventure (both lived and imagined), heartbreak, and a deep sense of hope, these “Little Women” struggle to find their own voices. April 28 – May 13
40 Stow Street | theumbrellaarts.org
Reserve your seats soon for the world premiere of this raw, loving, laughout-loud story of an immigrant family and their pursuit of the American Dream. March 31 - April 23
Don’t miss this glorious musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer® Prize-winning novel with a joyous Tony® Award-winning score. May 12 - June 4
1 True or False: On April 19, 1775, Paul Revere rode into Concord alerting residents that the king’s troops were on the march to Concord to confiscate weapons the colonists had been stashing to support a continental army.
2 You are a Concord minuteman. Before dawn, you are milking the cows when you hear the meeting house bell ringing and a methodic firing of gunshots. This is a prearranged signal that you should:
a) Lock down your house and remain indoors
b) Put on your uniform and wait in front of your house for your company to march by
c) Grab your gear and make haste to a prearranged muster point
d) Meet your friends for a wee dram in the Wright Tavern
3 You are the daughter of a Concord minuteman. On the morning of April 19, 1775, word reaches your household that the king’s troops are coming out to search the town! Your father and brothers have rushed
out to join their militia company. You could spend the day doing which of the following:
a) Making cartridges
b) Preparing food
c) Hiding military supplies
d) Tending to wounded soldiers from both sides
e) All the above
him a “ditto suit.” You will make him:
a) A double-breasted dress suit suitable for a wedding
b) A coat, waistcoat, and breeches made of the same fabric and color
c) A brown long-coat uniform with the militia insignia
d) The same type of suit he has ordered from you before
Riddle: We were in Concord Center on April 19, 1775, when British troops marched into town in front of us. We did not move, and we did not speak, and we did not choose sides. The British could have learned our names if they wanted to, but they paid no attention to us. Who are we?
5 You are a tailor and live in eighteenthcentury Concord. Colonel James Barrett of Concord, who is in command of a Middlesex militia unit, has asked you to make
6The great-granddaughter of an American Revolutionary War soldier, Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in Concord in 1868. Based on her real-life family, the story follows the four March sisters. Name the March sisters in order of age. Bonus Points: Match the fictional March sisters with the real-life Alcott sisters.
7In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, does Jo marry Laurie?
1. False. Starting his midnight ride in Boston, Revere intended to arrive in Concord but was captured by a British patrol in Lincoln (the town next to Concord). Concord doctor Samuel Prescott, who had joined Revere in Lexington, escaped capture and carried Revere’s message into Concord. Visit the Paul Revere Capture Site at 180 North Great Road, Lincoln, MA.
2. C: Grab your gear and make haste to a prearranged muster point. Something is about to happen!
Abased on Anna Alcott, Jo on Louisa, Beth on Elizabeth, and Amy on May.
7. No, unless you read French translator P. J. Stahl’s version. Stahl didn’t like Louisa’s original story (in which Jo marries Professor Bhaer) and thought it wouldn’t suit the sensibilities of the French reading audience. Stahl “fixed” the book and had Jo marry Laurie, plus kept Beth alive (which is a win for Beth!).
You are from a prominent family that has lived in Concord since the town was established in 1635. Despite your rebellious Concord neighbors, your family has remained devotedly loyal to the king of England. Following the American Revolutionary War, you are clearly no longer welcome in Concord and move back to England. The old king dies, and in 1821, for your loyalty, you are invited to his son’s coronation. You can proudly tell people you are attending the coronation of:
a) George III
b) George IV
c) George V
d) George VII
e) George Washington
3. E: All the above. To learn more about the roles of Concord residents on April 19, 1775, visit The North Bridge Visitor Center at 174 Liberty Street, Concord. And check out the April 19, 1775, exhibit at the Concord Museum at 53 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, MA.
4. We are the silent dead buried in the Old Hill Burying Ground at the top of Main Street. You can still visit us today if you choose.
5. B. A ditto suit was a coat, waistcoat, and breeches made of the same fabric and color.
6. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Meg is
8. B: George IV, son of “Mad King” George III. In modern day, The Prince and Princess of Wales’ oldest child is Prince George. He is in line to one day become King George the VII.
9. James Munroe the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825) and the last president who was a member of the Founding Fathers.
10. C. The king’s wife. King George IV hated (yes, hated) his wife Caroline from the moment he met her. She is remembered in history as “the smelly Queen,” which is unfortunate as she might have been a very nice person, and she really wanted to be Queen of England. When George banned her from attending his coronation, she showed up anyway and tried to gain entry.
Even though you’ve been expelled from America, you remain friends with Edith Bunkerhill, a woman from Concord who remained neutral during the war. You write to invite her to attend the 1821 coronation with you, but to your surprise, she replies that she cannot travel to England then because she will be attending a dinner with the then-current American president. Who is this president? (For a hint, see the article “The Dangerous Déjà vu” in this issue of Discover Concord).
You are at Westminster Abbey, in London, attending the coronation of the king in the above question. You hear wild banging on the door and someone screaming. It’s so scandalous that you can’t wait to write a letter back to Edith in Concord to tell her that the obnoxious would-be-intruder is:
a) The king’s mother-in-law
b) Benjamin Franklin
c) The king’s wife
d) The king’s mistress
IIt was 3:00 a.m. on April 19, 1775, when local militia commander Colonel James Barrett was awakened and told that British regulars were on the march to Concord! He could not have imagined that by day’s end, one of the most powerful military forces in the world would be chased back to Boston, bloodied, bruised, and even killed by him and the minutemen, farmers who were also his neighbors and friends.
The militias and the minutemen demonstrated preparedness and tenacity that day—qualities that the Boy Scouts of America aims to engender in its members today.
member, participated in the Boy Scouts’ adult leader Wood Badge training program in 2016, which requires participants to create five significant projects. David said, “I noticed that, while there were multiple trails to memorialize April 19, 1775, the most notable of which were the Issac Davis Trail and Bedford Flag Trail, they terminated at the point where the main events of the day began. There was no trail that memorialized the events and sites of the day-long engagement between the militias and the British army.” As a result, he set out to create the Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail to
on April 19 every year. What started as a hike with just four scouts and two adults that first year grew to an event with more than 70 participants by 2019. To date, over 200 scouts from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida have hiked this special trail dedicated to the fateful events of April 19, 1775.
Since the late 1950s, scouts and adult leaders have created a network of 237 National Historic Trails in the U.S., with another 18 in nine other countries. These trails provide opportunities for hiking while learning about significant events in our nation’s history.
David Owen, Concord’s BSA Unit Commissioner and Scout House board
enable scouts to hike that entire route from Meriam’s Corner in Concord to Prospect Hill in modern-day Somerville (15 miles away) to learn about the events of the day and earn a medal and patch.
On April 19, 2017, scouts from Troop 11 in Dorchester hiked the trail that day and began an annual tradition (except for two years during the Covid pandemic) to hike the trail
This year, the scouts will assemble at the Masonic Temple in Monument Square early in the morning of April 19 for a generous pancake breakfast courtesy of the Concord Masons. From there, they will hike to the Old North Bridge and then traverse the Reformatory Branch Trail, Moore’s Swamp, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on their way to Meriam’s Corner, just the way the militias did in 1775. From there, they will pick up the route of the Minutemen‘s Pursuit Trail, which begins with the length of Minute Man National Historical Park, then proceeds along Massachusetts Ave and the Minuteman Bikeway through Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge, where it turns before Porter Square onto Somerville Ave, into Union Square, and up to the tower on Prospect Hill. All in all, the scouts will hike 20 miles, enabling them to fulfill the final requirement of the Hiking Merit Badge.
For more information on Scouting in the Concord area and the Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail, visit scouting.org and concordscouthouse.org
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The male Oriole dines while the female builds the hanging nest.
Lady’s slipper orchids are some of spring’s loveliest flowers. A White Slant-line Moth visits this Lady’s Slipper.The Great Blue Heron in a morning spring glow.
This disheveled Wood Duck is getting ready to court a female. Wish him luck!
A Pileated Woodpecker bends its neck to gather insects—a much easier job in the spring than it was in the winter.
Dave Witherbee has been traveling the trails and rivers of Concord for 50 years and has been enchanted with the small and large aspects of its nature. Dave’s love of photography has enhanced the attraction.
“One attraction in coming to the woods to live was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the spring come in.”
-Henry David ThoreauThe soft green colors of spring on the river. The frogs are coming out from the mud.
SHARON MENDOSA Senior Vice President 978.580.0386
CHRIS MENDOSA Realtor® 978.394.5501
$3,985,000 / CONCORD
5 FULL & 2 HALF BATHROOMS
New construction-ready to move in! Marvelous modern design seamlessly paired with charming rich and rustic farmhouse architecture. Stunning entryway, custom staircase, sweeping entertainment spaces with oversized windows and 12 foot plus ceilings. Dream kitchen with designer light greyed oak and off white custom cabinetry, top of the line Italian appliances, and surprise pantry for your customization...a must see!
Sharon Mendosa Group is a team of real estate agents affiliated with Compass, a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Photos may be virtually staged or digitally enhanced and may not reflect actual property conditions.66 Spencer Brook Road, Concord