/ Real estate

History and high prices set Concord apart

By Thomas Grillo, Globe Correspondent, 2/2/2003

CONCORD -- Nearly 186 years after Henry David Thoreau was born in a simple farmhouse on a winding country road, town officials are seeking someone to save the crumbling saltbox-style home, nestled among acres of conservation land.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Nonprofit groups and individuals had until yesterday to submit proposals.

In exchange for getting the house for $1, the buyer would be expected to spend as much as $1 million to restore it and devise a plan to open it to the public - making the birthplace of the 19th century author and naturalist another gem from which the public could glimpse the past.

Concord offers visitors a variety of must-see stops, including the Concord Museum, Minute Man National Historical Park, the Old Manse, Orchard House, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson House.

Concord, like Weston, Wellesley, Belmont, and Sherborn, has always been one of the Bay State's most desirable and most expensive communities. The median price for a single-family home was $620,250 for the first eight months of 2002, the most recent data available from The Warren Group.

This week, there were 59 single-family homes for sale on the MLS Property Information Network; eight were priced under $500,000, including a two-bedroom antique Colonial on a tiny lot on Belknap Street near Concord Center, for $359,900.

Twenty-eight homes were listed for more than $1 million, including an 18-room estate on five acres at Monument Farm that offer seven bedrooms, a six-car garage, carriage house, tennis court, and pool.

The town's schools are a source of pride. Tenth-graders in the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District were second only to Weston's in last year's MCAS test scores.

At the junction of the Concord, Sudbury, and Assabet rivers, Concord retains many well-preserved Colonial houses, nine of them on or near the Concord green and constructed before the Battle of Concord. The historic clash saw 273 British and 95 Americans perish.

Concord also has a significant literary history: Louisa May Alcott, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emerson all lived in Concord.

On July 4, 1845, Thoreau moved into a cabin he had built at the edge of Walden Pond and began an experiment in simple living.

He later published "Walden" an autobiographical account of his two-year existence free of creature comforts but rich in thought about nature's wonders.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 2/2/2003.
© Copyright 2003 New York Times Company
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