Archive for May, 2011

Henry Thoreau initially surveyed and took up residence here in May 1850.

The property was surveyed and merged with adjacent parcels in June  1850 and again October  1856, property of  Daniel Shattuck.

In 1857 the three combined parcels were purchased by John Thoreau.   At that time additional property was added on the east side .

Boundaries of each of the additions after May 1850 are visible on the final John Thoreau 1857 Plan.

Thoreau lived here until his death 1862.

Much of his Journal and other writing and many survey drawings may have been created here.

The Thoreau pencils also may have been designed and manufactured here.

The property initially was surveyed on May 25 1850 when Thoreau recorded a “Plan of the Yellow House Lot, so called”, and now known as 255 Main St. Concord MA. That plan may be viewed in the CFPL collection as survey # 129 at:


On June 19, 1850 Thoreau recorded a “Plan of Daniel Shattuck’s Cottage – House Lot Concord MA. That plan may be viewed in the CFPL collection as survey # 108 at: http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/108.htm

On Oct. 6, 1850 Thoreau recorded a  “Plan of the Cottage House Lot on Main Street, and a Lot on Monroe Street Belonging to Daniel Shattuck …Oct. 6, 1856″ 

That plan may be viewed in the CFPL collection as survey # 109 at: http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/109.htm

This plan also contains the”small school house” at the southeast corner of Main and Thoreau street, so called today, formerly,  “Monroe Street”.

On March 30 1857 Thoreau recorded A Plan of John Thoreau’s House Lot and Plan of the Yellow House Lot, so called and now known as 255 Main St. Concord MA. Thoreau’s sketch says Area = 36731 SF.

A single Family Structure shown on the property was built 1815 according to the 2011 Concord GIS.

The following image of John Thoreau’s House Lot is provided courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum:


Thoreau notes that “the East part surveyed and (platted) & added to the west part.”

Upon inspection, the East part clearly is the same Yellow House Lot surveyed by Thoreau May 25 1850, above.  The West part has been added to the original Yellow House Lot, so called.

No structures are shown on the May or June 1850 surveys but a single Family Structure may be seen on Thoreau’s March 30 1857 Plan of John Thoreau’s House Lot and Plan of the Yellow House Lot, so called survey of Daniel Shattuck’s Cottage.

The west side neighboring lot is Daniel Shattuck’s Cottage – The House Lot surveyed by Thoreau June 19, 1850 and now at 267 Main St. Concord MA.

A view of the Thoreau House on 255 Main Street in Concord, MA 2011, shown below:

Note: Louisa May Alcott Negotiated the  purchase  of John Thoreau’s Property  from the Estate of Sophia Thoreau.   An agent’s letter, dated Bangor, 7 March 1877, addressed to Miss L. M. Alcott, proposed to sell the property for $5000:

“Bangor March 7, 1877

Miss Alcott, Concord, Mass.  Yours of 6th came to hand this morning.

I do not fully understand your offer.  The owners will not think it advisable to make any repairs whether sold to you or other parties.  And in my making the offer of $5000 I assumed the property would be transferred in its present condition.  I feel that the offer made you was a fair one and that the favorable change that has occurred in the state of the country since will further increase its value rather than diminish it.  Still although I have had an application from a Boston party since I saw you to whom I replied that I could not negotiate with them until after 10th’ns?? )  By consultation with the owners I am authorized to write requesting that you make a definite offer to take the property in its present condition with  the amount you will pay and the terms of payment.

If it is any object to you to pay $2000 or 2500 cash and the balance in 1 & 2 years with interest at 6% secured by mortgage one will do so.

The wish to close the affairs of the estate as soon as we can possibly and therefore made you the offer at what we deemed a low figure.

Still if you make up your mind to offer the $4500 making your repairs & will write me at once, I will give you a deeded answer pro or con on receiving your letter.


Bangor Maine agent for the Thoreau estate in Concord, MA

I answered by offering $4500 without any repairs and think we will take it.  People already congratulate us on our new house.


Louisa M. Alcott

My translation of the two letters has been taken from a copy of the original letter provided courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum.

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