You are here

Old Manse, the Reverend William Emerson House

-A A +A
1769–1770; 1845. 269 Monument St.

Few places can claim as many important literary associations as this fascinating house. The Reverend William Emerson built it as his parsonage in 1769–1770. A patriot as well as a divine, he observed the April 19, 1775, battle at the North Bridge (CN11) near his house and joined the Revolutionary Army as chaplain, dying of camp fever after the battle of Fort Ticonderoga. His widow, Phebe, married his successor in the pulpit, the Reverend Ezra Ripley, in 1780. Their descendants continued to live at the Manse until 1939, when they sold it to the Trustees of Reservations. Rev. Ripley's step-grandson Ralph Waldo Emerson used the house in 1835, writing Nature while an occupant. After Ripley's death in 1841, newlyweds Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne rented the house for three years (1842–1845). Here Hawthorne wrote most of Mosses from an Old Manse, from which the house has derived its name. The Reverend Samuel Ripley reclaimed the house in 1845 upon his retirement and added the front gable window and the projecting bay on the first floor left. Today, the house contains objects from the mid-eighteenth century on that were owned and used by this remarkable family over nearly two centuries. The Trustees of Reservations maintain the property as a museum.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Old Manse, the Reverend William Emerson House", [Concord, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 453-454.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.