Orchard House/Boston: Alcott's Girlhood Home in Boston: 20 Pickney Street

Again, I'll quote my walking tour:

Although author Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is best known for her book, Little Women, describing her family life in Concord, Massachusetts, she had several Boston homes. The daughter of famed Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott, she lived here in rented rooms as a child. As an adult, she often stayed with other reformist women in the "sky parlor" of the Bellevue Hotel on Beacon Street, owned by Dr. Dio Lewis, principal of Boston's Normal Institute for Physical Education, and near her publisher, Roberts Brothers. In the last decade of her life, Alcott purchased a home for her family at 10 Louisburg Square, but was too ill to enjoy it for herself. She died at the age of 55, probably of poison from the mercury used to treat the typhoid fever she contracted as a Civil War nurse.

When I finally made it to this house, trudging up hills carrying my trusty 2% latte, there was construction going on across the street. The guys working on the house there seemed puzzled at my odd behavior-- stopping to take pictures of what, to them, was probably an ordinary house. I took several photos, and stood there and smiled for a few minutes, imagining Louisa stomping about the hills nearby, peering out of the window at me, maybe even waving. The lady who lives nextdoor came out to walk her Golden Lab and asked me, very politely, what I was looking for. I told her, and she smiled, and said the Alcott's hadn't lived there very long and were even "evicted." She told me I ought to go to Concord-- and I told her I planned to, but still, this place was important too.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Boston looking at other historic sites-- but most of them didn't draw me the way this one did.

Kim Wells
10/03

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