Thursday, October 29, 2009

Orchard House: Home of Louisa May Alcott

After living in New England for 12 years, I finally decided this was the year to see Orchard House, the family home of Louisa May Alcott.

So when my Mom visited in August we packed up the family and drove to Concord, Massachusetts. I had no idea how much American and literary history is packed in that small town!!

Guided tours are available of the Orchard House for a fee. Of course we handed over our Mom's money and joined a tour. In hindsight, I should have suggested Joel and the kids play outside or in the grassy field across the street. Will was very interested in the tour but little hands are inclined to touch and that was specifically forbidden. I would have enjoyed the tour more if I hadn't been concerned with someone knocking over a priceless antique!

Even with the distraction of 4 small children I managed to learn a few things from the tour:
  • Orchard House is where Miss Alcott wrote her popular book "Little Women." Today the house is owned by a not-for-profit corporation who operates a museum about the Alcott family. In fact, part of the tour includes Miss Alcott's bedroom (upper right windows) where you can see the original desk where she wrote her books (picture taking is not allowed inside so I can't show it to you).

  • Louisa and her sisters would write short plays and then perform them for guests. They even had a curtain across a doorway that would be drawn while they ran up the backstairs to change costumes for the next act.

  • Bronson Alcott (Louisa's father) was a teacher. He believed everyone, including girls, should be well educated. Many of his ideas were not popular at the time but are taken for granted today.

  • Louisa's sister was encouraged to draw and paint anywhere - including the walls of the house. Many of the walls are covered with her drawings.
I couldn't help laughing to myself when the guide drew our attention to an "Order of Indoor Duties" that Mrs. Alcott had written and posted on the wall. She had times for specific chores, school work, walks, and meals. The guide seemed to think this was an oddity as did the rest of the tour group. It made complete sense to me!

I'm glad I can now say I've visited the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of "Little Women." Have you visited Orchard House? If not, put it on your list of things to do in New England!

*** This post is included in a series on Louisa May Alcott.


Kat said...

That sounds like an amazing trip! I would love to go see the house. Sounds like the Alcott family had a lot of things right - plan the days, assign the chores, and allow creativity. Very cool.

Ann said...

That doesn't sound odd to me either! Hmmm...that reminds me - our posters need to come down before the move! :-)

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

We went to Lexington and Concord two years ago. We didn't do any Alcott stuff, but loved the area.

By the way, you just have to read The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Frederick Vogel. That first book deals with Little Women, but all 3 books are set in Concord, and it's quite interesting!

Carrie said...

Sounds like its a really fun and fascinating tour! If I ever really do make it out that way (and I do hope to!) perhaps I can snag you for a tour!

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