Jonathan Harrington House, Lexington, Mass

The house at the corner of Harrington Road and Bedford Street in Lexington, around 1896-1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The house in 2018:

This house was built sometime around the first half of the 18th century, although it has been altered over the years. It stands at the northern end of the triangular Lexington Green, and it is most famous for having been the home of Jonathan Harrington, one of the eight Lexington militiamen who were killed in the opening shots of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.

At the time of the battle, Harrington was about 30 years old, and lived here in this house with his wife Ruth and their son Jonathan. Just after dawn on April 19, Harrington and about 80 other militiamen assembled on the Green, less than a hundred yards directly in front of his house. Here, they confronted a much larger force of British redcoats who were on their way to Concord to seize supplies of colonial munitions. A standoff ensued until someone fired a shot on or near the Green, resulting in both sides opening fire.

The ensuing skirmish marked the beginning of the American Revolution, although it was largely one-sided. It failed to stop the British advance, and only one redcoat was wounded, compared to eight dead militiamen and ten who were wounded. Of the fatalities, Jonathan Harrington is perhaps the best-known. According to tradition, he was mortally wounded during the battle, but he managed to crawl back here to his house, where he died in his wife’s arms on the doorstep.

Subsequent owners of this house included John Augustus, a shoemaker who lived here during the 1820s. He eventually moved to Boston in 1827, where he continued his career as a shoemaker. However, he is remembered today for his role in criminal justice reform when, in 1841, he began bailing criminals out of jail and taking them under his care, including finding employment for them. This eventually led to the establishment of probation as an alternative to incarceration in Boston, and the practice later spread throughout the state and the rest of the country.

Later in the 19th century, the house was owned by James Gould, and it remained in his family until at least the early 1890s. By the end of the decade, though, it was owned by Dr. Bertha C. Downing, a physician who had her practice here in the house. A native of Kennebunkport, Maine, Dr. Downing attended public school in Boston before graduating from Radcliffe College and the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. The 1899 town directory shows her living in this house, and her office hours were listed as being from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The first photo was taken at some point during her time here, as the sign above the two front windows on the left has her name on it.

Dr. Downing moved out of here by 1902, and in 1910 the house underwent a major renovation that ostensibly “restored” it to its colonial-era appearance. The owner at the time was Leroy S. Brown, and he hired local architect Willard D. Brown (evidently no close relation) for the project. Part of the work involved removing the wing on the right side of the house, which does not appear to have been original anyway, along with the replacement of the large central chimney with two smaller ones. Other less significant changes included the addition of a pediment above the front door, as shown in the present-day scene.

In retrospect, this restoration probably did more harm to the historic character of the house than if it had simply been left alone, but it did help to ensure its long-term preservation. Today, despite the early 20th century alterations, the house still stands as an important landmark in the center of Lexington. It is one of several surviving buildings on the Green that date back to the famous battle, and the house features two signs that attest to its historic significance. The one on the right tells the story of Jonathan Harrington’s death, while the one on the left identifies the building as having been the home of John Augustus.

Orchard House, Concord, Mass

Orchard House, at 399 Lexington Road in Concord, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The earliest portion of this house dates back to sometime around the early 18th century, but its present-day appearance was the result of an extensive expansion and renovation that occurred in 1857. In that year, the property was purchased by Amos Bronson Alcott, a teacher, writer, and philosopher who is best remembered today as the father of author Louisa May Alcott. He was a part of Concord’s Transcendentalist movement, and during the early 1840s he was one of the founders of Fruitlands, a short-lived utopian commune in Harvard, Massachusetts. However, this experiment failed in just seven months, and in 1845 the Alcott family moved to Concord, where they lived in a house on Lexington Road that they named Hillside.

At the time, the family consisted of Bronson Alcott, his wife Abigail, and their four daughters: Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth, and Abigail. They lived at Hillside for several years before moving to Boston in 1848, but they ultimately returned to Concord in 1857 and purchased this house. It was located immediately to the west of their old house, which had been acquired by Nathaniel Hawthorne five years earlier and renamed The Wayside. Bronson Alcott soon began renovating his house, which he named Orchard House after the large apple orchard that was located on the property. The work was completed the following year, and the Alcotts moved in during the spring of 1858, only a few weeks after the death of their 22-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

Louisa May Alcott was 25 years old when she moved into this house with her parents and sisters, and she went on to reside here for much of her early literary career. She was already a published author at the time, following the 1854 publication of her first work, Flower Fables, but she had not yet become widely known. Over the next few years, she wrote several novels and short stories, including Hospital Sketches, which was published in 1863. It was based on her own experiences as a Civil War nurse in Georgetown, where she served for six weeks during the war before falling ill with typhoid fever.

However, Alcott’s literary breakthrough came in 1868 with the publication of Little Women, which she wrote here in this house. This novel was largely autobiographical, with the March sisters in the book representing the four Alcott girls, and much of the plot was inspired by her own experiences. The book is set at a fictional version of Orchard House, although most of the real-life events in the book had actually occurred at Hillside, where Alcott lived during her teenage years.

Aside from the improvements to the main house, the Alcotts also built the structure on the left side of the scene. Originally known as the Hillside Chapel, it was later renamed the Concord School of Philosophy. Here, Bronson Alcott ran a school that was modeled on Plato’s Academy, with a series of lectures and readings that were based on Transcendentalism and other contemporary philosophies. Bronson was nearly 80 years old when he started the school, but he continued to oversee it for the next nine years, giving lectures here while also inviting guest speakers

In the meantime, Louisa May Alcott continued to live here until 1869, when she moved to Boston, but she continued to visit her family here in Concord. Then, in 1877 she purchased Henry David Thoreau’s former house on Main Street, and both she and her father subsequently lived there. Bronson sold Orchard House in the early 1880s, and he eventually moved to a house on Louisburg Square in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, where he died on March 4, 1888 at the age of 88. Only two days later, Louisa suffered a stroke—possibly a long-term effect of mercury medication that she had taken to treat her typhoid fever some 25 years earlier—and she died at the age of 55.

The first photo shows the front of the house at some point around the turn of the 20th century. It was already recognized as an important landmark, as this photo was taken by a major postcard company, but at the time it was still a private residence. However, in 1911 the Concord Woman’s Club formed the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association, which purchased the property and, starting in 1912, opened it to the public as a museum.

The house has remained as a museum ever since, and it continues to be open for guided tours, with hardly any exterior changes since the first photo was taken more than a century ago. It is one of the many important literary sites in Concord, and in 1962 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. More recently, the house gained attention with the release of the 2019 film adaptation of Little Women, much of which was filmed in Concord. However, this house itself was not included in the movie; instead, the producers constructed a replica home elsewhere in Concord, which was used for filming and subsequently dismantled.

Ephraim Wales Bull House, Concord, Mass

The house at 491 Lexington Road in Concord, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The house in 2018:

This house is famous for being the place where the Concord grape was developed in 1849, although the house itself is actually much older than that. It was built sometime in the late 17th or early 18th centuries, making it among the oldest surviving buildings in Concord. The main section of the house, in the center-left of this scene, is the oldest portion, and it was standing here by 1716, when it was the home of blacksmith Thomas Ball. For more than a century afterward, the house was occupied by a succession of blacksmiths, the last of whom was Nathaniel French, who rented the property until his death in 1834.

Two years later, another metalworker moved into this house. Ephraim Wales Bull was a goldbeater, which involved hammering gold into thin sheets of gold leaf. He was originally from Boston, but by the 1830s he had begun to experience lung problems, so his doctor recommended that he leave the polluted city and move to the countryside. Here in Concord, he continued to work as a goldbeater in a shop behind his house, but he was also an amateur horticulturalist, so he spent a significant amount of time growing plants in his garden.

One of Bull’s goals was to create a grape cultivar that would ripen early and could withstand the cold New England climate. In 1843, he found a wild grapevine—the fox grape—growing on his property, and he planted the seeds from this vine in his garden, alongside cultivated Catawba vines. The resulting hybrid seedlings grew for the next six years, and in the fall of 1849 one of the vines produced satisfactory grapes. He named this cultivar Concord, and in 1853 he exhibited it at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, where it received high praise. Concord grapes became commercially available the next year, and they have remained popular ever since.

Bull subsequently had success in state and local politics, serving in both houses of the state legislature, on the state board of agriculture, and on Concord’s board of selectmen and school committee. However, despite the widespread recognition that he received for having developed the Concord grape, he received little financial benefit from it. He earned about $3,200 from selling seedlings during the first year, but commercial nurseries subsequently began growing and selling their own plants, without paying any royalties to Bull. By the end of his long life, he was in extreme poverty and his house had become badly deteriorated, and he died in 1895 at the age of 89.

After Bull’s death, his neighbor Harriett Lothrop purchased the house. She lived a few houses down at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s former home, The Wayside, and she was a noted children’s book author, best known for her Five Little Peppers series, which were written under the pen name of Margaret Sidney. Aside from her writing, she was also interested in historic preservation, so she soon began restoring the old house. By the time the first photo was taken around the 1910s, Lothrop had named the house “Grapevine Cottage,” and she owned it as a rental property. The original Concord grapevine was still growing here at the time, although it is not visible in this photo.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, the house is still standing. It has seen some changes, most notably the addition of an enclosed second-story porch on the right side, but otherwise it looks much the same as it did in the first photo. It has recently undergone another restoration, including remodeling the interior, and it stands as a rare surviving example of an early colonial-era house in Concord, in addition to its historical significance as the birthplace of the Concord grape.

The Wayside, Concord, Mass

The Wayside, at 455 Lexington Road in Concord, around 1890-1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The house in 2018:

This house is best known for having been the home of three different notable authors during the 19th century, although the house itself is actually much older than that. It has been heavily altered over the years, but it dates back to at least 1717, when owner Caleb Ball sold the property to glazier Samuel Fletcher. It changed hands several more times during the first half of the 18th century, and during this time its owners included housewright Nathaniel Coleburn, who lived here from 1723 to 1730 and 1740 to 1747, and cordwainer John Breed, who lived here from 1747 to 1769.

In 1769, Breed sold the property to Samuel Whitney. He was involved in the Patriot cause in the years leading up to to  the American Revolution, including serving as a delegate to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, which met in Concord in October 1774. He was also the muster master for the Concord minutemen, and in early 1775 he stored a cache of ammunition here on the property. The British redcoats, who had come to Concord to seize colonial military supplies on April 19, marched right past the house both before and after the Battle of Concord, although they evidently did not search Whitney’s house or outbuildings.

The Massachusetts colonial government was not the only institution that ended up in Concord because of the Revolution. From 1775 to 1776, the Continental Army laid siege to British-occupied Boston, and many of the soldiers were stationed in Cambridge. Around 1,600 were housed at Harvard, requiring the college to relocate to Concord during the 1775-1776 school year. Here in Concord, classes were held in the meetinghouse, the courthouse, and a schoolhouse, and students and faculty boarded at various locations throughout the town. This house became the residence of John Winthrop, a noted scientist who held the Hollis Chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard from 1737 to 1779.

In 1778, Samuel Whitney sold the house to Daniel Taylor, who in turn told it to Daniel Hoar two months later. He was a farmer, and he lived here for the rest of his life, until his death in 1814. His son, Daniel Hoar Jr., then inherited the property, which remained in the Hoar family until 1827. The house subsequently went through several more owners, and in 1845 it became the home of Amos Bronson Alcott, his wife Abigail, and their four daughters: Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth, and Abigail.

Bronson Alcott, as he was generally known, was a noted writer and philosopher who was associated with the Transcendentalist movement. A few years before moving here, he had been the founder of Fruitlands, a short-lived utopian commune in the town of Harvard, Massachusetts. This effort ultimately failed after just seven months, in part because of poor agricultural practices and strict dietary rules that prohibited all animal products and even some vegetables. The Alcotts subsequently relocated to Concord in 1844, where they lived with a friend for a short time before moving into this house.

Although Bronson Alcott was a noted figure in his own right, his fame was eclipsed by that of his second daughter, Louisa May Alcott. She was 12 years old when the family moved here, and they lived here for a little over three years before moving to Boston in 1848. However, despite her relatively short stay here, these were formative years for Louisa, and many of her experiences here were later incorporated into her best-known work, Little Women, a largely autobiographical novel that was published in 1868 and 1869.

In the three years that they lived here, the Alcotts made a number of changes to the property. Bronson did extensive landscaping work, in particular the creation of terraces on the hillside behind the house. He planted these with a variety of flowers and trees, and he grew fruits, vegetables, and grains here in order to accommodate his vegan diet. The family also made changes to the house itself, which they named Hillside. This work included the addition of two new bedrooms for Louisa and her older sister Anna. During this time, the family was also involved in the Underground Railroad, and they are believed to have sheltered at least a few runaway slaves here in the house.

In 1848, the Alcotts moved to Boston, although they would eventually return to Concord in 1857. A year later they purchased Orchard House, located immediately to the west of this house on Lexington Road. It would remain in the family for more than 25 years, and Louisa lived there for most of her literary career. In the meantime, though, their former home here was sold to another prominent author, Nathaniel Hawthorne. He had previously lived in various places throughout his adult life, including several years in Concord at the Old Manse, but this was the only house that he ever owned.

Hawthorne moved into this house in 1852, along with his wife Sophia and their three children, Una, Julian, and Rose, whose ages ranged from one to eight. When he had left Concord in 1845, Hawthorne was still a relatively unknown author who struggled to make ends meet. He subsequently lived in Salem, where he worked as surveyor at the Custom House for several years, before moving to Lenox in the Berkshires. However, by the time he returned to Concord to live here in this house, he was a well-established author, thanks to the recent publications of The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), and The Blithedale Romance (1852).

Also in 1852, Hawthorne published a campaign biography of Franklin Pierce. The two men had been friends since their time at Bowdoin College, and Hawthorne helped Pierce’s presidential campaign by lending him both his name and literary talents to write the biography. It was evidently successful, because Pierce won the election and was inaugurated in 1853. Pierce then rewarded his friend by appointing him as the United States consul in Liverpool, a prestigious diplomatic post that Hawthorne held for the next four years until the end of Pierce’s presidency.

As a result of this appointment, the Hawthornes only lived here for a little over a year before moving overseas, and they would not return here until 1860, after an extended tour of Europe. Hawthorne would continue to reside here for the last four years of his life, until his death in 1864 in Plymouth, New Hampshire, while on a trip through the White Mountains with ex-President Pierce. His widow Sophia remained here in Concord until 1868, when she and her children moved to England. She ultimately sold the house in 1870, a year before her own death.

Although Hawthorne lived in this house for a relatively short period of time, he made some substantial alterations to the house. Upon returning from Europe, he added a third-story tower to the rear of the house, which became his study. Other changes included the addition of a bedroom above the wing on the left side, and a bay window where the front door had originally been. During his ownership, he also changed the name of the house, from Hillside to The Wayside.

In the 1870s, after Sophia Hawthorne sold the property, it was owned by Mary C. Pratt, who operated the Wayside School for Young Ladies out of the house. Her neighbor Bronson Alcott, who was still alive and approaching 80, was a frequent visitor here during this time. He often lectured at the school, and he also gave tours of the grounds, telling stories to visitors about Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The school ultimately closed in 1879, and that same year the house returned to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s family when it was purchased by his daughter Rose and her husband, George P. Lathrop. They resided here intermittently for the next four years, and during one of their absences Rose’s brother Julian lived here with his family. George was the editor of the Boston Courier newspaper, and he also wrote several novels, although his works never received the same attention as those of his famous father-in-law. Rose would later go on to have success in a completely different field. After George’s death in 1898, she founded a Catholic religious order, the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, and became Mother Mary Alphonsa.

In 1883, the Lathrops sold the house to Boston publisher Daniel Lothrop and his wife Harriett. As with so many of the previous residents of this house, Harriet was an accomplished writer. She was best known for The Five Little Peppers, a children’s book series that was published by her husband’s company starting in 1881, under the pen name Margaret Sidney. She eventually took over the operation of the publishing company after Daniel’s death in 1892, and she continued writing children’s books into the 1910s.

The Lothrops had one child, Margaret, who was born here at The Wayside in 1884. Both George and Harriett were interested in literature and historic preservation, and they recognized the historical significance of their house. Margaret grew up with a similar appreciation, and she eventually inherited the property after her mother’s death in 1924. At the time, she was an economics professor at Stanford University, but she arranged to have the house preserved and open to the public for tours starting in 1928. She eventually returned to Concord in 1932, residing here at The Wayside while also organizing the tours of the house during the summer months.

Margaret’s goal was to sell the house to an organization that would preserve it for the future. She even wrote a book, The Wayside: Home of Authors, about the history of the house. It was published in 1940, and she hoped that it would generate interest in the property, but no prospective buyers came forward. She ultimately lived here for the next 25 years after writing the book, and she continued to give tours and conduct research throughout this time.

In 1963, she successfully lobbied for the house to be declared a National Historic Landmark, the highest level of federal recognition for a historic site. Two years later, she finally found a buyer in the National Park Service, and in 1965 the house became part of the recently-established Minute Man National Historical Park. The house has remained a part of the park ever since, and it is still open to the public, nearly a century after Margaret Lothrop first opened her house for tours.

The first photo in this post was taken sometime around the 1890s, during George and Harriett Lothrop’s ownership. Thanks in large part to their daughter’s efforts, the exterior has remained well-preserved since then. The shutters are gone, and there have been some changes to the wing on the right side, but otherwise the house hardly looks any different from this view.

Overall, the only other significant difference between the two photos is the front lawn, which was once shaded by two large trees that probably dated back to Hawthorne’s time. Both the elm on the left and the pine tree on the right are long gone, perhaps as a result of the 1938 hurricane or, in the case of the elm, to Dutch Elm Disease. However, there is at least one tree still standing from the first photo. On the left side of the house, in front of the porch, is a hawthorn tree that was, appropriately enough, planted by Nathaniel Hawthorne during his residence here. Despite its unassuming size, it is now more than 150 years old, and it survives today as a living reminder of the home’s famous occupant.

The Minute Man, Concord, Mass

The Minute Man, a statue on the west side of the Concord River at the Old North Bridge in Concord, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The statue in 2018:

This statue, which was dedicated in 1875, marks the site of the Battle of Concord, which was one of the opening events of the American Revolution. It stands on the west side of the Old North Bridge, on the spot where the colonial militiamen assembled on April 19, 1775 and fired the famous “shot heard round the world” at the British redcoats on the east side of the river. This short skirmish lasted less than three minutes, but it forced the British to abandon their search for colonial military supplies and retreat to Boston. This was the first military victory of the war for the colonists, and it was also the first time that British soldiers were killed in combat during the war.

The first monument at the battlefield was a granite obelisk, which was installed in 1836 on the east bank of the river. It was dedicated a year later, and the ceremony included the singing of a poem, “Concord Hymn,” which Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote for the occasion. The poem is best known for its opening stanza, which reads:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The obelisk was placed on the east side of the river because, at the time, there was no longer a bridge across the river here, and the east side was more accessible from the center of Concord. However, this meant that the monument was actually on the spot where the British fought. This motivated one local resident, Ebenezer Hubbard, to bequeath money to the town for the construction of a new bridge and the creation of a new monument on the west side, where the militiamen had fired their famous volley.

This gift came only a few years before the 100th anniversary of the battle, so over the next few years the town prepared for a large celebration. Boston architect William R. Emerson designed a new bridge, and the town commissioned noted sculptor Daniel Chester French to create the statue. Both the bridge and the statue were completed in 1874, and the town also built two large tents in preparation for the event, which were located to the west of the statue, on the hillside in the distance of both photos. One tent was for orations, and it could fit about 6,000 people, while the other was a dinner tent that could seat 4,500 people.

The statue was formally unveiled at the centennial celebration, which was held on April 19, 1875. The festivities ultimately drew crowd of some 50,000 people to Concord, far exceeding the capacities of either tent. There were a number of dignitaries here at the event, including President Ulysses S. Grant, Vice President Henry Wilson, and four members of Grant’s cabinet: Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, Secretary of War William W. Belknap, Postmaster General Marshall Jewell, and Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano. Grant’s former Attorney General, Concord native Ebenezer Hoar, presided over the event, which also included brief remarks by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the recitation of a poem by James Russell Lowell. The main orator for the day was George William Curtis, who spoke about the history of the battle and how its lessons can be applied to the present day.

The Minute Man was well-received by the public. An article, published in the Boston Globe on the day of the ceremony, provided the following description of the statue:

[I]t is of heroic measure, more than seven feet in height, generously proportioned, and represents a young man turning at the hurrying call of the messenger from his labors in the field, and instantly ready for duty. His left hand rests a moment on a handle of his abandoned plough, across whose upper brace his coat is flung, his right hand grasps the old flint-lock musket; he rests on his left foot, while his right is just leaving the ground behind—the whole attitude indicating a moment’s pause, as if to listen. The figure is attired in the traditional continental costume, and will preserve its details for future ages. . . .

The features are strongly marked and bear the energy, the self-command, the ready shrewdness, immediate decision, and, above all, the air of freedom that belong to the New England face. The frame is stalwart, the shoulders squarely held, the muscles of the bared forearm—the one that leans strongly on the plow, the one that strongly grasps the musket—are tense and unencumbered by flabby flesh; the great veins stand knotted on the strenuous hands. The man is alive from head to foot, and indeed we know not where there is better represented the momentary pause of vigorous action than in this noble statue.

The statue stands atop a 7 1/2-foot granite pedestal, which was cut from the same boulder as the older monument on the other side of the river. The east side of the pedestal, shown here in this view, has the first stanza of Emerson’s poem inscribed on it, and on the other side is the date of the battle and the date of its dedication. The site of the statue is 110 feet west of the bridge, in line with it and the other monument. This spot is said to be where Captain Isaac Davis fell during the battle, becoming one of the first colonists—and the first officer—to be killed in the American Revolution.

Today, nearly 150 years after it was unveiled here, and more than a century after the first photo was taken, the statue still stands guard over the Old North Bridge. The statue itself looks essentially the same as it did in the first photo, although the surrounding area has seen a few changes. At the time, the statue was surrounded by a hedge, which had originally been planted for erosion control. Another hedge of Japanese barberry was later planted here, although it was ultimately removed in the late 20th century. Other changes include the base of the statue. Concrete curbing was installed here in 1909, probably soon after the first photo was taken, and in the late 1950s it was replaced by new granite curbing, along with granite slabs at the front and back of the statue.

Over the years, The Minute Man has remained an iconic symbol of the American Revolution, as well as one of the most important works of 19th century American sculpture. French made a number of smaller copies of the statue, including one that is now held by the Smithsonian, and images of the statue have also appeared in a variety of other mediums. For the 150th anniversary of the battle in 1925, the statue was featured on the five cent commemorative stamp, as well as the Lexington and Concord commemorative half dollar, which was issued the same year. More recently, in 2000 it appeared on the Massachusetts state quarter, superimposed over an outline of the state. However, perhaps its most famous use is as the logo of the U. S. National Guard, where it represents the historic tradition of citizen-soldiers that was exemplified by the colonial minutemen of 1775.

Concord River from Old North Bridge, Concord, Mass

Looking north on the Concord River from the middle of Old North Bridge in Concord, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

These photos were taken facing north from the middle of the Old North Bridge in Concord, looking downstream on the Concord River. The river forms about a half mile upstream from the bridge, at the confluence of the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers, and it flows north from here for about 16 miles, eventually entering the Merrimack River in Lowell.

This site here is probably the best-known spot on the Concord River, as it was the site of the Battle of Concord, which occurred on April 19, 1775. Along with the Battle of Lexington, which had occurred several hours earlier, it marked the beginning of the American Revolution. During the battle, the colonial militiamen had assembled on the west bank of the river, on the far left side of the scene, in an effort to prevent British forces from seizing colonial military supplies. The British, on the east bank, opened fire, resulting in the militiamen returning fire with what came to be known as the “shot heard round the world,” as it resulted in the first British fatalities of the war and forced the redcoats to retreat back to Boston.

During the 19th century, the battlefield was marked by two famous monuments, with one on each side of the river. Since 1874 there have also been a series of commemorative bridges built on the site of the original bridge, which had been removed in 1788. The photographer of the first photo captured this scene from the second such bridge, which was built in 1888 and was destroyed in a flood in 1909, about a year after the photo was taken.

In the center of this photo is the boathouse for the Concord Canoe Club, which stood on the east side of the river on what was known as Honeysuckle Island. The club was established in 1902, and the boathouse was probably built around the same time. However, in 1909 the club built a new boathouse just to the south of this one, closer to the foreground on the far right side. The club existed until at least the 1920s, but both boathouses are now long gone, and the present-day scene actually looks more like its 1775 appearance than it did in the early 20th century.

Today, the bridge and the surrounding battlefield, including the land on both sides of the river in this scene, is now part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. This park, which was established in 1959, preserves important sites and buildings related to the battles of Lexington and Concord, and in recent years it has drawn upwards of a million visitors each year. However, years after the demise of the Concord Canoe Club, the river remains popular among recreational paddlers, and on summer days it is not uncommon to see groups of anachronistic kayaks passing through an otherwise colonial-era setting.