This National Historic Landmark is best known as the home of Louisa May Alcott and her creative family. In fact, it is where Louisa May – one of the greatest female writers of the 19th century – penned her beloved masterpiece, "Little Women."
Orchard House sits in a charming setting in Concord, Massachusetts, which was home to the leaders of America's 19th century intellectual and literary movements. The house became a center of intellectual talent and a second home to such literary masters as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. An early preservation story, the 300-year-old home once belonged to a Concord Minute Man and was rescued from certain destruction in 1857 by Louisa's father. Today, 80% of the collection consists of Alcott personal possessions and household furnishings, including Louisa's writing desk and inkwell, priceless original artwork drawn directly on the walls by Louisa's younger sister May, family papers, books, and photographs.
Orchard House has had no structural changes since the Alcotts' reconstruction during their residency (1858-1878). However, over the years, accelerated wear, insect infestation, and water damage created severe structural abnormalities that needed immediate correction. The house's foundation, posts, beams, chimneys, and Alcott's second-floor bedchamber and art studio all required reinforcing for safety reasons. Surprising analysis discovered that a large portion of the home lacked a foundation. Orchard House rested on bare earth and was sinking unevenly into the ground, with walls near collapse. In a year-long heroic effort, it was lifted onto steel beams and a foundation was dug largely by hand, rescuing Orchard House from certain destruction.
In recognition of its significance, First Lady Laura Bush chose Orchard House as the site for her 2002 debut appearance as Save America's Treasures' honorary chair. National Trust for Historic Peservaton President and Save America's Treasures Co-Chair Richard Moe joined Mrs. Bush on this special day. Save America's Treasures at the National Trust considers Orchard House a top priority and has raised more than $150,000 in individual and corporate contributions to help match its $400,000 federal Save America's Treasures challenge grant. The site has also received other high-profile recognition in cooperation with Save America's Treasures and the National Trust, including awards from Lowe's ($100,000) and Tourism Cares ($20,000).