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Visiting “Little Women” Sights near Boston

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 29, 2019

Photo: Stillman Rogers

Travel Tips

The release of the new movie version of Little Women is sure to enchant a new generation of girls with the story of the March family, which parallels the life of its author Louisa May Alcott.

 

Like her heroine Jo, Louisa was not a typical girl of her era and, from an early age, played an important role in supporting her family. Her father, Bronson Alcott, was a visionary and dreamer with innovative ideas about education far ahead of his time. He spent more time and effort on his philosophy than earning a living for his wife and four daughters — much of the time it was Louisa’s writing that kept a roof over their heads and food on the table.

 

Louisa set Little Women at Orchard House, the Alcott family home, in Concord, Massachusetts, only a few miles from Boston. The house is still there and unchanged, with 80 percent of the furnishings and artifacts original to the Alcotts. The desk where Louisa wrote Little Women, her most famous book, still sits in front of the window in her bedroom. A visit there is like stepping into the book as stories and vignettes of the Alcotts’ domestic life weave through a tour of the house. Louisa once said if the book succeeded it would be because her family had lived most of it.

 

Orchard House in Concord Massachusetts. Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

Special Welcome to Our Home tours with a living history guide are interactive, with personal stories about the family, 19th-century songs and games, and a treasure hunt. Unlike many historic homes, Orchard House is open in the winter with extended hours during school vacation weeks.

 

Your family can visit other places nearby associated with Louisa May Alcott. In Boston, her family’s home on Beacon Hill is at 20 Pinkney St., just down the hill from Louisburg Square. Although it’s now private residences, it looks much the same as when the Alcotts lived there and is included in Boston’s Literary Cultural District.

 

Fruitlands Museum. Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

Louisa’s father frequently invested his time and money in projects that failed. One of the more spectacular failures was his utopian plan for a commune called Fruitlands, in Harvard, Massachusetts. The experiment lasted only a year and, today, Fruitlands is a museum that preserves the farmhouse, furnished much as it was when 10-year-old Louisa lived there. You can see the tiny kitchen where Mrs. Alcott cooked for the entire commune and the unfinished attic where Louisa and her sisters slept. Well-informed docents bring their experience to life for young visitors.

 

Elsewhere on the Fruitlands property are museums relating to Shaker arts, Native American life and New England art and culture. Scenes from the new Little Women film were shot at one of the buildings at Fruitlands.

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