Orchard House and Sleepy Hollow

I am fortunate to live in Massachusetts, only about an hour away from Concord, MA where the Alcott homestead, Orchard House, exists. As you can imagine, I make frequent pilgrimages there. Many other noted authors including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in this small New England town, famous also for its proximity to Lexington and its involvement in the American Revolution. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the final resting place for these noted authors.

Here is a slide show of pictures I took from a visit this summer to Concord. I’ve put notes for each photo below the slide show.

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Here’s a link to a panoramic view of each room of Orchard House (you need Quicktime on your computer to view it – just drag your cursor over the picture to move it around and see the whole room).

Here is the official video (in two parts) on Orchard House: http://youtu.be/xQjpKHEIXOs and http://youtu.be/l6K3qx9xaXk

Here is a fascinating write-up of Orchard House from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Slide #1
Indulging in one of my favorite passions – Visiting Concord, MA and Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott.

Slide #2
Here’s Orchard House, built in the 1600s – revolutionary war soldiers marched past this house. I wish I could have taken pictures of the inside – the rooms are so big and airy and 80% of the furniture and artifacts belonged to the Alcotts. Seeing their library of books around the house and especially in Bronson Alcott’s study was especially meaningful, along with the pencil and ink drawings that younger sister and accomplished artist May Alcott left all over the house.

Slide #3
Here’s Louisa’s room where she wrote “Little Women.” A couple of cool artifacts that they had in the room was her original handbag with her initials crocheted on it, and her sewing basket.

Slide #4
Next door is Wayside where Nathaniel Hawthorne lived. He bought the house from the Alcotts, who had lived there for 3 years, during Louisa’s teenage years.

Slide #5
Hawthorne added a LOT of extras to this house (Bronson Alcott’s drawing showed a much plainer house). The barn is where the Alcott daughters put on their legendary plays.

Slide #6
This was near Wayside – a very steep path leading to the stop of a summit – Hawthorne used to go up there to formulate his stories. Louisa Alcott often wrote of doing the same.

Slide #7
Larch Path – the text on this sign demonstrates the close connection between the Hawthornes and the Alcotts.

Slide #8
Of course, what visit to Concord would be complete without going to Author’s Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery? Here is the Thoreau family stone . . .

Slide #9
Here is Henry David Thoreau’s little stone. I thought it was most appropriate seeing the random acorn on top!

Slide #10
Here’s Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stone.

Slide #11
The Alcott Family stone

Slide #12
Louisa May Alcott’s final resting place. Note the veteran’s flag – she was a Civil War nurse. Her book of her experiences, Hospital Sketches, is a must for anyone really interested in the Civil War and looking for a compelling first hand account in a Washington hospital. Great stuff!

Slide #13
Louisa deserved an extra stone, of course . . .

Slide #14
Here’s the whole family record (although May is buried in Paris). This was quite the family, uniquely talented.

Slide #15
The resting place of Ralph Waldo Emerson, faithful best friend of Amos Bronson Alcott.

Take a virtual tour of Orchard House

Postcards of Orchard House

23 Replies to “Orchard House and Sleepy Hollow”

  1. John Hoar was the original owner the Orchard House, he had a tenant house that was referred to as Fox House which my Greatest Grandfather Thomas Fox of Concord resided in. After he moved from the smaller home it was then moved to the larger home of John Hoar and attached to the back of it. There still homes of the Fox family in Concord today. One of which Thomas Fox owned is called the Benoni House that his grandson lived in, and is now up for sale.

    Sincerely Victoria Winter

    1. Thanks for that Victoria, how cool. You directed me to a document about the families which has this line about Orchard House which describes in more detail how the two houses became Orchard House – “The current Orchard House in Concord, MA was built from a small L shaped house originally built by Thomas Fox and a
      larger house built in front of it by John Hoar. The Fox house portion is now the kitchen and dining room.”

  2. I was wondering if you ever go back to Sleepy Hollow cemetary, could you please see if there are any Fox family headstones and if so take some pics and email them to me.
    I would love to know…sincerely Victoria

    1. Hello Victoria,
      I am curious to know more about the Thomas Fox connection to the Orchard House (Thomas is my 9th great-grandfather). Also, I’m of course curious how we are related! I am planning a trip to the Boston area this fall and would love to know more. I visited the Orchard House when I was about 9 years old and remember my grandfather talking about the attachment. I thought it was maybe more “family myth” than truth!

      1. Can you tell us more about Thomas Fox and how he might be related? There are family trees for the Alcotts on the web which might be helpful. Have you tried Ancestry.com? It would be cool if you were related. I am currently tracking down the family history of a Dr. Newhall who treated Elizabeth when she and Abba were in Lynn – I suspect we are related.

      2. I am also a great+ grandchild of Thomas Fox of Concord. Did you make the trip? I have been to the Emerson house by the Bridge, and to Walden Pond, but, that was many years ago, and I did not know that the Foxes were here in the 1600s. I have a broad history in New England and New York and Pa, We have been in Virginia now for 120 years. Keep in touch—- I have other interesting details about their London days. —Myreen Moore Nicholson

      3. If I recall correctly, I think I have seen a house with a plaque mentioning Thomas Fox in Concord, maybe even on Lexington Road where Orchard House is. I live about 45 minutes outside of Concord so I go all the time.

  3. I find it fascinating to be able to “touch” my ancestry. My g-g-g grandfather was Chatfield Alcott, Bronson’s brother, thereby making my g-g grandfather LMA’s first cousin (she had many). My grandfather (b1883) often spoke about his visit to Concord when he was a very young child to my Dad. I believe he must have attended the funerals of LMA and Bronson in 1889, but only speculate on that. Chatfield moved to Oriskany Falls, NY, married a Nancy Comstock, then a Mrs. Bailey (a widow) after Nancy’s death. He had 3 children with Nancy, 5 with Mrs. Bailey (do not know her maiden name). Unfortunately, Oriskany Falls Hall of Records burned to the ground, taking all birth/marriage/death records with it, so we do not know which wife we descend from.. We have been told LMA’s “Eight Cousins”was modeled after Chatfield’s 8 children, but do not know the truth behind that. Chatfield returned to MA and often traveled with Bronson to the south. Bronson was evidently not a good provider, so Chatfield (a silversmith) took him along with him to help him earn money. Both of them changed their surname from Allcock to Alcott because of constant teasing (as you might imagine). Anyway, my aunt researched all of this long before the Internet, and along with what she learned from my grandfather, I think she did great.

    Hope I didn’t bore you.

    Judith Alcott Huff

    1. Wow, how totally cool that you commented! I posted a while back about Alcott ancestors and am honored that you have commented on this blog. Welcome! I would love to see your aunt’s research, I bet it’s fascinating.

      My married name is Bailey – now I know that my married name and my maiden name (Hoyle) are both connected in some way to Alcott lore. Cool!

  4. Hello Susan,
    Thomas Fox owned a house in Concord in the mid-1600’s that I’ve been told was close to where the Orchard House was eventually built. The Alcotts purchased Thomas’ house much, much later and attached it to the back of their house where I believe it is the kitchen area. That’s the family legend. I don’t think the Foxes are related to the Alcotts as most of the Foxes relocated to Lowell and Dracut by that time. Sorry, I wasn’t implying that we are related! And yes, I do use Ancestry but also have a lot of extensive genealogical records that I inherited from my grandfather.

    1. My wife’s family is descended from Thomas Fox of Concord, MA. Your comment of having extensive genealogical records on this family, and I presume on allied families, caught my attention. We are always looking for more information, in the hope that out there is that person that may be able to clear up a few things for us.

      Fast forwarding ~200 years, would you also be related to Charles James Fox (1810-1876), who died at Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., NY?

      Thanks in advance-

      Paul Doyle

      1. I am descended from Thomas Fox of Concord, and my Grandfather was born in Chautauga, New York, around 1879.

  5. Hello Paul,
    Charles James Fox descends from Thomas-Eliphalet-Benoni whereas I descend from Thomas-Eliphalet-Nathaniel. Nathaniel was a younger son that eventually settled in Dracut, Mass. where my family continued to live for the next 250 years. I could probably assist in genealogical inquiries, but of that line I haven’t developed. I know Benoni Fox’s house was still standing when I was in Concord about 2 years ago.

    You may contact me at aliciaslaterfox at google mail.

  6. My Grandfather, Ernest Giles Fox, was born in Chautaugua, New York, around 1878. He descends from a Zenas Kingsley Fox, Sugar Hill, PA. I am not absolutely sure about the background past that. Albion was in the line. I know more, but do not have it before me. I believe we come from the original Concord Thomas Fox.

  7. Like Alicia, I am a direct descendant of Thomas Fox, the daughter of a line of sons so I carry the Fox surname (Thomas, Isaac, Samuel, John, Samuel, Jesse Sr, Jesse Jr…..). Eliphalet (eldest son) got the land in Concord, the other children got money and most went to New London/Groton, as did their mother, Thomas’s second wife and widow.
    There are five Fox homes in Concord, although one was about to be torn down in 2016, and I don’t know if they got permission. These homes all had Bicentennial plaques for 1976, along with the name of the first owner.
    To set the record straight(er): I visited Orchard House in 2006 specifically asking about the story that some Fox property had been appended to the rear of the house, forming the kitchen, etc. I met the historian of the house who said that was not the case. I don’t have the details of her explanation, but I know this story has multiplied many, many times, without factual supprt.
    Speaking of coincidences, I live in California and by chance, met one of the descendants of the Thomas-Eliphalet-Nathaniel line that settled in Dracut–he lives 10 miles from me.
    Nice to meet so many cousins here!
    Karen Fox

  8. For my Fox cousins: The Benoni Fox home was on the market and finally sold in 2017. An elegant video of the home was made to market the house, and you can enjoy it at https://iplayerhd.com/player/video/c1bbb9f2-902e-4469-abe8-2ed71f3f2f06/share
    You can see see the original floors, fireplaces, etc.–really a treat to see. The interior work before the most recent sale was done by contractors who also worked on This Old House.

    Note the beginning narration talks about the Fox family! I recall the date on the house is 1703.

    Karen Fox

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