Re-opens April 27th, 2023
We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Emerson House in the spring of 2023.
Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial House
28 Cambridge Turnpike
Concord, Massachusetts 01742
On-street parking available.
Tour cost is $12.00 per adult. Seniors and children ages 7 to 17 $10.00.
Children under the age of 7 are free.
The Emerson House does not take reservations in advance for public tours.
Tours will be given on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The house opens at 10:00 AM, and for the rest of the day we are running continuous tours. On Sundays the house opens at 1:00 PM, the first tour starts at 1:15 PM. Last tours start at 4:00 PM.
The tours take approximately 45 minutes.
There is a limited capacity of 10 people for each tour.
Large backpacks, gum, food and beverages are not permitted. Also, we request all electronic devices be turned off during the tour. Photography inside the house is not allowed.
The Emerson House is not handicap accessible.
There are no public restrooms at Emerson House.
Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any.
Conduct of Life lectures, 1860
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Perhaps America’s best known thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson led a renaissance in American ideas in the 19th Century: a search to realize the high potential of the individual person, to understand the proper role of the individual in society, and to discover and celebrate the interrelation and sacredness of all life. He was a pragmatist and an idealist, a lecturer, a prolific writer and a poet.
In July 1835 Ralph Waldo Emerson purchased his Concord home, proclaiming it was “the only good cellar that had been built in Concord.” Along with the house, there was a sizable barn, on two acres of land. In addition to housing various animals, the barn was used for over a year as a schoolroom for Miss Foord’s school. The Emerson children attended the school along with Lizzy and Abby Alcott, Lizzy and Barry Goodwin and Caroline Pratt, all from Concord.
After he purchases his house a relieved Emerson writes to his brother William:
Concord 27 July 1835
Has Charles told you that I have dodged the doom of building & have bought the Coolidge house in Concord with the expectation of entering it next September. It is a mean place & cannot be fine until trees & flowers give it a character of its own. But we shall crowd so many books & papers & if possible, wise friends, into it that it shall have as much wit as it can carry.
The house Emerson brought his bride Lidian to on September 15, 1835 became that “sylvan” home where they would live together for the next forty-seven years. The Emersons had four children. Their home became not only a place for Emerson’s study and writing, but a literary center for the emerging American Transcendentalist movement.
In the early years the Emersons referred to their home as Coolidge Castle, a reference to the Boston Coolidges, who had it built as a summer house. In the family the house became known as Bush, and it remained Emerson’s “home front” for the rest of his life.
When I bought my house, the first thing I did was plant trees.
In November 1836, after the birth of his son Waldo, Emerson planted six hemlocks. In 1837 he planted thirty-one pine and chestnut trees. The chestnuts fronted the house, the last one coming down in a storm in 2012. In 1838 he wrote to Thomas Carlyle, “I set out on the west side of my house forty young pine trees.” Soon the two acres grew to nine and in 1847 Emerson had enough land to plant 128 apple, pear and plum trees.
The house contains Emerson’s original furniture and objects, much as he left it. The Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial Association (RWEMA), formed in 1930 by family members and others associated with Emerson’s library and work, owns the Emerson House and the Emerson family papers, and is responsible for maintaining the house and for promoting interest in Emerson’s literary works. The RWEMA is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
School and Private Group Tours
Groups of ten or more need to make a reservation for a tour, and these tours must follow the same procedures listed above.
Payment for group tours: cash, credit card, or check made out to Emerson House.
Group tours: $8.00 per person.