A. Bronson Alcott, 1857
Many portions of Orchard House were built between circa 1650 and 1720, so the building itself is a marvelous example of First Period American architecture. The House also had a venerable history long before the Alcotts settled here, as among three centuries of former residents were a prominent attorney who sheltered "Praying Indians" on the property, father and son Concord Minutemen, and a progressive farmer and State Senator. It was not until the Alcotts arrived, however -- and more importantly, after Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in 1868 -- that the home became internationally recognized as not only where the beloved novel was written, but also where it was set. For many, a visit to Orchard House is "like a walk through the book," and even akin to a pilgrimage. But it is also, as you will discover when you visit, so much more!
After the Alcott family purchased the home, it was christened "Orchard House" due to the 40 apple trees located on the West and East sides of the property. Oftentimes, Mr. Alcott and his neighbors and friends would simply call it "The Orchard," while Louisa May Alcott nicknamed it "Apple Slump" -- not only because the House was surrounded by orchards, but because many areas within it were slanted, leaning, or sloped, much like a popular 19th Century dessert of the same name!
With the exception of major holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) and a few days set aside for inventory and deep cleaning, yes. Orchard House operates on a two-season schedule, with extended hours often offered during Winter months.
From April 1st through October 31st, we are open weekdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm.
From November 1st through March 31st, we are open weekdays from 11 am to 3:30 pm, Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 1 to 5 pm.
Thanksgiving - New Year's Hours of Operation may be found here.
A complete listing of our hours of operation can be found here.
Orchard House is located at 399 Lexington Road in Concord, MA, which is accessible via the major routes of MA-128/US-95, MA-2, and MA-62. The MBTA commuter rail also stops in Concord (Purple Line, to Fitchburg), with Orchard House being an approximately 25-minute walk from the depot on Thoreau Street. (If possible, please use our street address with a map app on your cell phone or a GPS device.)
There is limited parking directly in front of Orchard House (including one handicapped spot), but one short block away on Hawthorne Lane is a large parking lot that we share with the National Park Service. A crosswalk facilitates access to the sidewalk that leads to Orchard House within just a few minutes of walking.
Orchard House is only shown by guided tour as the rooms and artifacts take on enhanced significance through your personal interactions with our Staff and other visitors.
The visit experience lasts approximately 45 minutes, and is currently comprised of a closed-captioned informational video followed by a guided tour.
As a private, not-for-profit historic site dedicated to sharing the significant legacy of the Alcott family with the public, admission is charged to fund the work of caring for the irreplaceable collection of Alcott artifacts and preserving Orchard House to the highest possible standards. A brief listing of our admission rates can be found here, while a detailed listing is available on our Timed-Entry Admission site. (We do offer a wide range of discounts to make Orchard House affordable to families, active duty military and veterans, teachers, nurses, and members of "Friends of the Alcotts.") Our gardens and grounds, as well as our Museum Store, are always free and open to all.
We urge all visitors to reserve tickets online via our Timed-Entry Admission system to guarantee being able to visit on the date and at the time you prefer. We often sell out of tickets, and therefore cannot always guarantee that "walk-in" visitors will be accommodated. Timed-Entry Admission takes less than five minutes to reserve, and all tickets are transferrable to a future date should your plans change.
Currently, Orchard House requires all visitors and Staff to wear face masks inside our buildings, and preferably on our grounds as well. If you do not have a face mask, we are happy to provide an individually-packaged mask in either adult and child size. We also have clear face shields and face masks with a transparent insert around the mouth for visitors who are speechreading.
Pursuant to our re-opening in August of 2021, we implemented a capacity limit for our tours of 10 persons. We encourage all visitors to practice social distancing as much as possible, and offer hand sanitizer at multiple locations in our Admissions/Store area and inside The School of Philosophy. Surface cleanings of high-touch areas are also done periodically throughout the day.
During our pandemic closure, we made a significant investment in "air scrubbers," which are integrated within our state-of-the-art geothermal climate control system. These devices rid the air of fine particulates related to COVID-19 and other viruses, as well as mold, pollen, dust, and other pollutants.
There is a single-use gender-neutral restroom located inside our Admission/Store area.
A newly-constructed accessible pathway affords visitors of all abilities the chance to enjoy our historic landscape, beautiful gardens, and re-created apple orchard during all seasons of the year -- and visit The Concord School of Philosophy (1880) as well.
Orchard House itself is accessible by wheelchair or walker on the first floor only. Visitors who cannot climb stairs are invited to spend time in our front hallway with a notebook filled with numerous photographs and detailed descriptions of the three upstairs rooms. We also offer folding chairs in each room to those who may be unable to stand for longer periods of time.
Yes! Despite being over 350 years old and uninsulated, Orchard House offers one of the most comfortable visit experiences while helping to save our planet via the use of one of the most sustainable forms of energy available -- geothermal -- as our climate control system. Not only have our ground source heat pumps been able to easily adjust interior temperatures in both the House and School of Philosophy year-round, they eliminated our reliance on fossil fuels, and slashed our utility bills by nearly 60%! We believe our commitment to sustainability would have also greatly pleased the Alcotts, who were themselves loving and responsible stewards of the many gifts Nature provides to humankind.
Orchard House does not have food service available, but we do sell individually packaged cookies and candy as well as boxed water for a nominal fee in our Store. (It may interest you to know that Concord was the first town in America to ban the sale of 16.5 ounce or smaller plastic water bottles to protect the environment!)
We welcome organized motor coach visitors as well as schools, scouts, senior living facilities, book clubs, and other special interest groups throughout the year for guided tours and educational programs.
To request an organized group tour reservation, please send an email with as much detail as possible about your intended group visit, including the number of persons and possible dates, or phone 978.369.4118 x106.
As our visitation hails from not only all 50 states of the United States, but also more than 30 countries around the world, we have written tours in the following languages: English (Short, Standard, or Complete), Chinese, Esperanto, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish. Many of our Staff are also fluent in other languages, including American Sign Language; with advance notice, we may be able to arrange a tour in the language of your choice. Please send an email prior to your visit date if you have specific language needs.
Due to our small room sizes and the fragile nature of our collection, strollers and large-format backpacks must remain in your vehicle or be left outside our Admission area. Non-ambulatory children should be carried throughout the House, while toddlers and older children may sit on carpeting in each of the rooms, if desired. (Please note that all children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult while at Orchard House and on our grounds.)
Due to the inability to predict how animals will react to strangers, especially within the small spaces of our rooms, and given the fragile nature of our collection, we do not allow pets inside our historic buildings (exceptions are made for service animals). Pets may visit our grounds, but must be leashed or contained at all times. We also kindly ask that you clean up after your pet when necessary.
Over the decades, we have hosted a number of private events -- from weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties to concerts, poetry readings, and corporate retreats -- both on our grounds and in The Concord School of Philosophy. Rentals of our historic facilities are arranged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with our Executive Director. Please send an email with as much detail about your event as possible, including any tentative dates for your event, well in advance.
Watch the two-minute trailer for our Emmy Award-winning Documentary to discover why so many visitors have considered Orchard House an abiding, inspirational place for over 110 years!
Intrigued? Stream the entire Documentary with PBS Passport or rent from Amazon. Better yet, purchase it from our in-person or online Store to support Orchard House directly! Learn more about our Documentary here.