History of Concord, Massachusetts

History of Concord, Massachusetts

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The site of the first battle of the War of Independence, Concord, Massachusetts, was settled and incorporated in 1635. The Battle of Lexington and Concord began in Lexington on April 19, 1775, where several hundred men had gathered in the town and began a slow march toward the oncoming British redcoats. They joined with 500 Minutemen and other colonists assembled at North Bridge to join in the skirmish, which led to a victory for the colonists.Concord was named for the harmonious relationship between settlers and local Indians. The Old Hill Burying Ground, which contains the graves of colonial families and War for Independence veterans, is located in Concord, as well as at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, named for a poem by William Ellery Channing, not the hamlet of Washington Irving fame.Built in 1747, Wright's Tavern on Monument Square played home to the Provincial Congress on the eve of the Revolution, while the larger body sat in the Meeting House nearby. It was the meeting place of the Minutemen in the early morning of the Battle of Concord and later that day was held by the British under command of Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn.Following the Declaration of Independence, the question arose of new state constitutions, and who should draft them. In Massachusetts, the call was not heeded until 1779.In the early-to-mid 19th century, Concord hosted some of the most famous writers of American literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Henry David Thoreau, the Alcott family, including Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott; and Margaret Fuller, publisher of The Dial, all lived in Concord at one time or another during this flowering of free American thinking.Emerson and other intellectuals from Harvard University founded the Transcendental Club in September 1836, on behalf of "deeper and broader views than can be obtained at present." These savants, including Henry Hedge, George Putnam, George Ripley, Orestes Brownson, and others, began to meet in the Greater Boston area, including Concord, to pursue their ideals. The club was established as a protest to the “arid intellectual climate” of Harvard and Cambridge, to which most of them originally belonged.Thoreau once lived for about two years in a small, self-made cabin outside of Concord on Walden Pond, which was the location and inspiration for his book Walden. Of Concord, Thoreau wrote,

“I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only.”

Founded in 1886, the Concord Museum features Paul Revere’s “One, if by land, and two, if by sea” lantern, as well as the largest selection of furniture and other items from Thoreau’s home on Walden Pond. The museum serves as a learning and cultural center visited by thousands touring historic Concord each year.

MCI Concord is a level 4, medium level security prison. [2] The prison is located in Concord, Massachusetts on state Route 2. A Massachusetts State Police barracks (Troop A-3) and the Northeastern Correctional Center (Minimum Security) are located across the highway from the prison. The prison currently houses over 550 medium security inmates. This prison was visited in 1988 by Mother Theresa on her trip touring all Massachusetts prisons and also by Cardinal Sean O'Malley in 2012.

MCI-Concord is also the home to the department's Central Date Computation Unit, Central Records Unit, Central Research Unit, and the Data Collection Unit. All of which are split between the SFU Building outside and B-Building within the walls of the facility.

Pursuant to the Supreme Judicial Court’s April 3, 2020 Opinion and Order in the Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, SJC-12926 matter, as amended on April 10, April 28 and June 23, 2020 (the “Order”), the Special Master posts weekly reports which are located on the SJC website here for COVID testing and cases for each of the correctional facilities administered by the Department of Correction and each of the county Sheriffs’ offices. The SJC Special master link above has the most up to date information reported by the correctional agencies and is posted for the public to view.

1 inmate at MCI Concord has died from Covid. [3]

MCI Concord opened in May 1878 as the New State Prison at Concord with Mexican War veteran General Chamberlain as its warden. [4] [5] In 1884 all the State inmates were taken out of Concord and transferred to the State Prison in Charlestown Massachusetts and Concord became the "Massachusetts Reformatory" where prisoners under 30 years of age received a one number maximum term for the crime they were convicted of and the Massachusetts Parole Board could release the offender a month after their judgment, or anytime up to their maximum term. If the offender proved to be reformed of the behavior that caused his incarceration he would be put on supervised parole which was subject to termination if the parolee proved to be rehabilitated. For the courts sentenced those they felt could be reformed to the reformatory, and the more serious offenders to the State prison. Programs were set up at Concord so that the offender could prove himself reformed, and be paroled could learn a trade to be used on their return to society. In 1893, additional construction added 230 cells to the Massachusetts reformatory. In 1955, because of overcrowding at the State Prison in Charlestown and rioting inmates, Governor Herter formed a committee to study the system and it was decided to revamp the entire State Prison system and the Commissioner was ordered to purchase more prison facilities for those sentenced to the State Prison to ease the overcrowding situation at Charlestown. During the Acts of 1955, c.770, all the prison were merely renamed, "MCI-(at the city or town the prison was located). In 1955 The State prison at Walpole, and the reformatory at Concord were in fact "two" distinct "maximum" security facilities. In 1972, c.777, s.8, the Massachusetts reformatory "name" was changed to be, "MCI-Concord." Only the name was changed. Court commitments from District Courts to the reformatory did not stop until the reformatory sentence was repealed in 1994. Around 1978–80, after a major riot at the reformatory, where the inmates even robbed the prison Canteen Store, during a movie, "Dog Day Afternoon" held in the Gym (where all the inmates go at one time) over 150 reformatory inmates were transferred to the State Prison, and 150 State inmates were transferred to the reformatory. Then, without Legislative authority, or even notifying the Judicial branch of our tripartite system, Commissioner Hogan abolished the Maximum Security Reformatory for men at MCI-Concord and made it a medium security facility that would also be used as a "reception and diagnostic center" which was at MCI-Norfolk already for offenders sentenced to the Maximum Security State Prison Sentence. And before 1978-80 Concord never housed any State sentenced inmates so the maximum security reformatory facility did their classification in the building designated as the "New Line" where it was decided whether the reformatory inmate would stay at the maximum security reformatory or be moved to the Farm across the street. Since June 2009 MCI-Concord was redesignated as a medium security facility of the State Prison and Massachusetts.

Timothy Leary's Concord Prison Experiment was conducted at MCI Concord during the early 1960s. [6] [7]

1882 Riot Edit

In early July, 1882 at 12:00 midnight inmates at the Concord Reformatory began to cause a disturbance by shouting and banging on doors. The noise went on for hours and the prison's warden decided to punish the inmates by revoking their yard privileges for July 4. This caused the disturbance to escalate with inmates breaking down wooden doors and furniture being destroyed. The riot stopped three days later.

1972 Riot Edit

On November 22, 1972, inmates in E Building began rioting and causing a major disturbance. Correction officers requested assistance and seventy-five state police officers (along with four sharpshooters) were sent to the Concord Reformatory to put down the uprising.

History of the Museum

Cummings Davis (1816–1896), the Museum’s founding collector, moved to Concord, Massachusetts in July of 1850, a few months after the celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. After moving to Concord, Davis opened a refreshment saloon, first at the train depot and later in the center of town, selling pastries and newspapers.

By that time, Concord already had a history of celebrating the past. The visit of the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824, the fiftieth anniversary of the North Bridge Fight, and the 1836 bicentennial of the town’s founding were all made occasions to reflect on the town’s past, which was further monumentalized by the 1835 publication of Lemuel Shattuck’s History of the Town of Concord. Davis lost no time initiating his own monument to Concord, a collection of mostly colonial artifacts with local histories. By 1860, he had enough of a collection to display to interested visitors.

Davis’s collection began to attract more attention over the course of the 1870s there were articles on him in the Boston newspapers, and his Revolutionary War relics were displayed in the dinner tent, which sat four thousand people, during the 1875 Centennial celebration in Concord. Davis’s collection was perceived by his neighbors as an appropriate repository for relics. He displayed his collection in rented “antiquarian rooms” in the old courthouse in the center of town, owned at the time by the Middlesex Insurance Company. Within a few years of the Centennial, Davis, not yet sixty-five, began to find it increasingly difficult to care for himself and his relics.

In 1881, a group of thirty Concordians headed by John Shepard Keyes (1821-1910) offered to pay to rent a larger room at the courthouse, at a cost of about $150 a year, “for the purpose of securing a better place for the arrangement and exhibition of the valuable collection of Mr. C.E. Davis.” That effort culminated in 1886 with the transfer of the collection, numbering about two thousand objects, to the newly formed Concord Antiquarian Society.

In 1887, the Society bought the house that had belonged to saddler Reuben Brown to display the collection and to house the collector. The initial arrangement of the collection was made by George Tolman (1836-1909), Secretary of the Society and one of the charter members, and by Cummings Davis. Davis’s health continued to fail and in 1893 he was committed to the asylum at Danvers, where he died at age eighty.

During the 1970s, the Museum rededicated itself to educating a growing public about Concord’s history and to be a Museum for all. The Museum appointed its first professional director and initiated a modest series of school and public programs.

In 1981, a new education and administrative building, the Davis building, was added. Conscious of its growing public commitment, the Museum adopted the name Concord Museum in 1984.


In 1991, the Museum constructed a major new addition, designed by Graham Gund, with three changing exhibition galleries, a theater, and upgraded visitor amenities, fully accessible to all audience. Today, the Concord Museum is a center of cultural enjoyment for the region and a gateway to the town of Concord for visitors from around the world.

Concord Museum breaks ground for new Education Center!


Anna and Neil Rasmussen Education Center Opens

Concord Museum opens first phase of the New Museum Experience

Upcoming! April 19th Gallery to open in second phase of the New Museum Experience!

Mary Moody Emerson was only two years old when her father, Reverend William Emerson, mounted his horse and road off in to the Revolutionary War never to return. Mary was sent to live with her impoverished grandmother and insane aunt in Malden, MA. She was a voracious reader and in spite of any formal education,…

Perhaps Concord’s most prominent citizen in the 1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a beloved neighbor and generous friend to many. He was the grandson of the Reverend William Emerson and a former Unitarian Minister, writer, lecturer, philosopher and mentor to Henry David Thoreau who built his one room house on Emerson’s wood lot at Walden…

History of Concord, Massachusetts, USA

Visit Concord, Massachusetts, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and genealogy.

Are you from Concord? Do you have ancestors from there? Tell us YOUR story!

Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA

Site of the first battle of American Revolution

Concord includes: East Quarter, Lake Walden, North Postal Annex, Pine Ridge Station, Reformatory Station, and Westvale.


There is MUCH more to discover about Concord, Massachusetts, USA. Read on!

  • 1635 - Concord is settled and incorporated

The Battles of Lexington and Concord signaled the start of the American Revolut. Read MORE.

The homestead occupied by Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Concord, was entirely destroyed by fire this morning, the. Read MORE.

"Orchard House is a historic house museum in Concord, Massachusetts, USA. It was the longtime home of Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) and his family, including his daughter Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) who wrote and set her. Read MORE.

"The Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts is a National Historic Landmark lived in by three American Literary figures: Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Sidney and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet. Read MORE.

"Wright's Tavern is a historic tavern located in the center of Concord, Massachusetts. It is now a National Historic Landmark owned by the Society of the First Parish, Concord, with important associations with the. Read MORE.

"The Old Manse was built in 1770 for Rev. William Emerson, father of minister Rev. William Emerson and grandfather of transcendentalist writer and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson. The elder Emerson was the town minister in Concord. Read MORE.

Sculpted by Daniel Chester French, the base is inscribed with the lines of Emerson's poem.

In Concord, at the Old North Bridge within the Minuteman National Historic Park, are several monuments related to the skirmish around. Read MORE.

Fighting Breaks Out in Lexington and Concord

At dawn on April 19, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. A British major yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels.” The heavily outnumbered militiamen had just been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out. To this day, no one knows which side fired first. Several British volleys were subsequently unleashed before order could be restored. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen lay dead and nine were wounded, while only one Redcoat was injured.

The British then continued into Concord to search for arms, not realizing that the vast majority had already been relocated. They decided to burn what little they found, and the fire got slightly out of control. Hundreds of militiamen occupying the high ground outside of Concord incorrectly thought the whole town would be torched. The militiamen hustled to Concord’s North Bridge, which was being defended by a contingent of British soldiers. The British fired first but fell back when the colonists returned the volley. This was the “shot heard ‘round the world” later immortalized by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Emerson was not the only artist moved to depict the battle painter Amos Doolittle, known as “The Revere of Connecticut,” created four celebrated engravings of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.)

The Engagement of the North Bridge in Concord, by Amos Doolittle.

GHI/Universal History Archive/Getty Images

After searching Concord for about four hours, the British prepared to return to Boston, located 18 miles away. By that time, almost 2,000 militiamen—known as minutemen for their ability to be ready on a moment’s notice—had descended to the area, and more were constantly arriving. At first, the militiamen simply followed the British column. Fighting started again soon after, however, with the militiamen firing at the British from behind trees, stone walls, houses and sheds. Before long, British troops were abandoning weapons, clothing and equipment in order to retreat faster.

When the British column reached Lexington, it ran into an entire brigade of fresh Redcoats that had answered a call for reinforcements. But that did not stop the colonists from resuming their attack all the way through Menotomy (now Arlington) and Cambridge. The British, for their part, tried to keep the colonists at bay with flanking parties and canon fire. In the evening a contingent of newly arrived minutemen from Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts, purportedly had a chance to cut off the Redcoats and perhaps finish them off. Instead, their commander ordered them not to attack, and the British were able to reach the safety of Charlestown Neck, where they had naval support.

Where Are the Concord Writers Buried?

Visitors come to Concord not only to see the house museums but also to visit the Concord writer’s graves in the nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, Channing and Alcott are all buried at Author’s Ridge near the back of the cemetery.

There, thousands of tourists each year visit the graves and leave behind flowers, notes and items such as pencils on the author’s graves. The cemetery is open year round and closes each day at dusk.

History of Concord’s Colonial Inn

Learn more about our Inn’s rich 300 year history with these key facts and dates:

  • 1716 – Concord’s Colonial Inn’s original structure was built.
  • 1775 – One of the Inn’s original buildings was used as a storehouse for arms and provisions during the Revolutionary War. When the British came to seize and destroy the supplies, the Minutemen met them at the North Bridge on April 19th for what became the first battle of the American Revolution. The event is commemorated every April with a parade near the Inn and a ceremony at the North Bridge on Patriots’ Day.
  • Early 1800s – Parts of the Inn were used as a variety store and a residence.
  • 1835 – 1837 – Henry David Thoreau resided with us while he attended Harvard.
  • Mid 1800s – The building was used as a boarding house and a small hotel, named the Thoreau House after Henry’s aunts, the “Thoreau Girls.”
  • 1889 – The Inn as we know it today begins operating. Situated on Concord’s town common, known as Monument Square, the Inn is surrounded by landmarks of our nation’s literary and revolutionary history.
  • 1900 – The property was given its current name: Concord’s Colonial Inn.
  • 1960 – The Inn undergoes a major expansion with the addition of the Prescott Wing, adding 32 new guest rooms and suites to the Inn’s original 16.
  • 1970 – The dining portion of Concord’s Colonial Inn is expanded significantly as well with the addition of the Merchant’s Row Dining Room, our main dining room ever since.
  • 1988 – The Inn is purchased by German Hotelier, Jurgen Demisch.
  • 2012 – The Prescott Wing undergoes a top-to-bottom restoration.
  • 2015 – The Inn is purchased by Michael and Dorothy Harrington of Beverly, Massachusetts, who own it to this day.
  • 2016 – The Inn celebrated the 300th anniversary of it being built.

We look forward to welcoming you to many more significant historical moments in years to come. For more information on the rich history of our property, simply inquire with one of the helpful staff members during your next visit.

The History of Concord, Massachusetts. V. 1- Volume 1

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As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

Women's Lives in 1775

Women were key in the preparations for war in 1775 and their lives were greatly impacted by the fighting on April 19, 1775.

Men and women alike were startled out of bed in Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington early on April 19, 1775. As the alarm spread through the towns, men gathered their guns and congregated with their neighbors and friends to meet the approaching British troops. Many of the stories about this historic day focus on the movements of the Minutemen and the British Red Coats throughout the Massachusetts countryside. Yet, behind the valiant actions of Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington’s Minutemen were the many women and children who watched over the contraband the Regulars searched for, prepared food for their fathers, husbands, and brothers, and waited anxiously to hear whether the British had succeeded and if everyone was safe.

Learn More!

In 2016 Minute Man NHP hired historian Alyssa Kariofyllis to write a series of papers about the women who lived along what came to be known as the Battle Road in 1775.

History of Concord, Massachusetts

One of my favorite places to visit!

When I'm there, I love to visit Louisa May Alcott's home, Orchard House. Orchard House is the little brown house where the March family lives in Little Women. Little Women is based heavily on the lives of Louisa and her sisters. In the kitchen you can see the breadboard where youngest sister Abba May (Amy) burned a portrait of a man. You can also also see her bedroom where she drew all over the walls and Louisa’s bedroom where she wrote Little Women! There is a little room belonging to Louisa’s nephews featuring toys and games from the 19th century. There are items in the house which visitors will recognize from Little Women throughout the house, such as Beth's piano and the old sofa where Jo and Laurie sat to chat with pillows between them.

Another place I love to visit is The Wayside , the home of three famous authors: Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney (author of the Five Little Peppers series and other stories for children).

The home was originally built in the colonial era and has had many additions over the years. The Visitor’s Center tells about the families that lived there. The Alcott family lived there from 1845-1848. It was the first house they

owned and Louisa spent her happiest days there and it is the setting of Little Women! In fact, the visitor’s center is in the barn where the girls performed their plays! Visitors can view the room Louisa’s father used as a study and that he had turned into bedrooms for Louisa and her younger sister. In one room, you can view a place where Louisa’s family hid a runaway slave. Louisa wrote her first book during this time called Flower Fables, based on stories she told Ellen Emerson while babysitting.

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