Nathaniel Hawthorne statue
Statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem, MA. He was one of the major authors who lived at The Wayside. ©Author Adventures

The Wayside: Home of Authors

The Wayside in Concord is a triple treat. Three major authors lived there, beginning with Louisa May Alcott, then Nathaniel Hawthorne, and later children’s writer Harriett Lothrop, who used the pen name “Margaret Sidney.”

It is now part of the National Park Service in Minuteman National Historical Park. The park’s headquarters are located at 174 Liberty Street in Concord. More details can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/mima/learn/historyculture/thewayside.htm.

Read more about Louisa May Alcott here: https://authoradventures.org/massachusetts/alcott-louisa-may.

Read more about Nathaniel Hawthorne here: https://authoradventures.org/massachusetts/hawthorne-nathaniel.

Concord currently has a population of approximately 18,000. In the Alcott family’s time, however, it was approximately 2,300. According to nps.gov: “While in the house in the 1840s, the Alcott family aided at least one run-away slave on his flight to freedom. The Wayside is now a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.” More information about its historic role within the Underground Railroad can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/mima/learn/historyculture/thewaysideugrr.htm.

The Book by Margaret Lothrop

Eventually, the house was inherited by Margaret Lothrop, who wrote The Wayside: Home of Authors in 1940 to preserve its history. You can find this book at https://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/nh/wayha.html.

Re-imagined by the Owners

The Alcotts were a creative family, tirelessly working on home improvements, but the Hawthornes’ ideas were different, so the house went through major transitions as it changed hands. One distinct addition that came with the Hawthorne family was a three-story tower. Nathaniel Hawthorne used the top space of the tower as his writing center.

If you have heard of Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but not “Margaret Sidney,” read her book entitled Five Little Peppers and How They Grew at gutenberg.org.

The Alcotts, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau are all buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at 35A Bedford Street in central Concord.

The Wayside is the seventh stop on Massachusetts Author Adventures Trail Part 2.

Patricia Smart