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The Ralph Waldo Emerson House is a house museum located at 28 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, Massachusettsmarker, and a National Historic Landmark for its associations with American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. The museum is open mid-April to mid-October; an admission fee is charged.

History

The house, named "Bush", was built in 1829 by Concord's Coolidge family as a summer house on the village outskirts, beside the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike. Emerson, who had previously lived in Concord at the family home The Old Mansemarker, purchased Bush in July 1835 when he married his second wife, Lydia Jackson of Plymouth. Emerson changed her name to "Lidian" after their marriage. In a contemporary letter, he is pleased to avoid the trouble of building, but writes: "It is in a mean place, and cannot be fine until trees and flowers give it a character of its own". His cost was $3500 with an additional $400 or $500 for enlargements and finishing.

Emerson and his family lived in the house for the remainder of their lives. In it he wrote his famous essays "The American Scholar" and "Self Reliance", and entertained a host of notable neighbors and visitors including Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. The house was badly damaged by fire on July 24, 1872, but Emerson's neighbors took up a collection to pay for repairs, raising some $12,000 in total, and sending the Emersons to Europe and Egyptmarker while the house was restored. In 1873 the Emersons returned to reoccupy the house.

Emerson died in the house in 1882, and in 1892 his wife Lidian followed. Their daughter Ellen Tucker Emerson, who remained unmarried, lived in the house until her death in 1909. Other friends and relatives lived here until 1948.

House today

Today the house is still owned by the family, and open to visitors as a private museum. It is a four-square, two-story frame building in a house style common to many New England towns. The interior is much the same as when Emerson lived in it, with original furniture and Emerson's memorabilia, although his library has been moved to Harvard Universitymarker's Houghton Library, and his study is now on display across the street in the Concord Museum.

References

  1. Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 127. ISBN 0-618-05013-2


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