School may be out for the summer, but you and your family can still broaden your historical and literary horizons with a visit to the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House, located at 399 Lexington Road in Concord.
The Orchard House (circa 1650) is the family home of Louisa May Alcott, author of the cherished classic “Little Women” (published in 1868) and supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. This beloved home of the Alcott family sits on the grounds of an apple orchard, hence the name The Orchard House.
In fact, when Louisa May’s father, Amos Brons Alcott, purchased it in 1857, the allure of this property was the orchard. Mr. Alcott considered apples as the most perfect food, thus making 399 Lexington Road the most perfect place for his family.
Fortunately, there have been no major structural changes to this home, and 80 percent of the furnishings on display were once owned by the Alcott family. Because of this, the home appears very much as it did when the Alcott family lived here.
Today, visitors are able to feel as if they are walking into the pages of “Little Women,” as this home is also the setting for the characters of the beloved book.
This historical home is shown daily from 11 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., by guided tours only. Only a limited number of visitors can be accommodated at any given time, so tickets are sold on a first come first served basis.
Besides guided tours, the Orchard House also offers an interesting and creative selection of summer programming geared towards children and families.
The “Apple Slump Players Theater Workshop” is a week long youth workshop for up and coming actors from the ages of 8 to 12. This workshop will teach theatrical warm ups, games and improvisation, as well as acting out scenes from Louisa May Alcott’s stories. Children will also rehearse and perform a skit at week’s end. This workshop runs from July 29 -Aug. 2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For future authors like Louisa May Alcott, there is the “Write Stuff Creative Writing Workshop.” Children ages 9-13 will experiment with various writing forms inspired by the Alcotts. Such forms as sensory writing, journaling, and fiction will be explored during this workshop that takes place Aug. 5 - 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Hand in Hand at the Orchard House” is a unique hands on preschool program that allow children under the age of 6 the opportunity to take part in an interactive tour with parents or caregivers. This is a fun way for young children to learn about life at the Alcott home. This program is offered year round, but advanced reservations are required.
The Orchard House also offers two “Living History” programs for children and adults.
For children age 7 and older, discover “A Morning with the Alcotts.” Authentic costumed staff portray the Alcott family members, and introduce what life was like in the 19th century, particularly life at the Alcott home. Children will receive an interactive tour, learn old fashioned games, songs and stories while enjoying morning refreshments. This program is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on July 25, Aug. 14, and Aug. 20.
The “Welcome to Our Home” Living History Tour is suitable for all ages, and a perfect adventure for the entire family. This tour is offered on the 4th Saturday of each month, from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. The number of participants for this tour is limited, so advanced reservations are required.
The Orchard House also offers an interesting and informative summer program for adults.
This year’s Summer Conversational Series features the topic “Good Wives, Marriage, and Family in Little Women and Beyond.” Participants in this series will discuss the meaning of marriage and family in both the 19th century and today. This series will take place from July 14 through July 18.
For more information about the Summer Conversation Series, Youth Summer programs, or daily tours of the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House, visit www.louisamayalcott.org. To register for summer programs and tours, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-369-4118 x106.