The ‘Yellow House’ where Thoreau lived hits the market for $2.6 million

Buying Spring House Hunt Concord
255 Main St., Concord
255 Main St. in Concord is tied to two famous authors. Courtesy of Krys Streeter

In his famed book “Walden; Or, Life in the Woods,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”

Thoreau’s own “little world” at one point consisted of living in the attic of 255 Main St. in Concord. His father, John, bought the home in 1849, according to “Historic Concord and the Lexington Fight: A Brief History of Concord” by Allen French, including a Concord guide by Leslie Perrin Wilson.

Now what was known then simply as the “Yellow House,” according to the book, is up for sale, with open houses slated for Saturday, April 27, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And Thoreau wasn’t the only famous author connected with the home. Louisa May Alcott, who penned “Little Women,” among other books, helped her parents buy the property in 1877, according to “Historic Concord.” Alcott herself lived in Boston and stayed at the home only occasionally.

A Federal-style Colonial, as described in its listing, Thoreau’s former digs are listed for $2,635,000. The 5,807-square-foot home — still yellow with shutters framing its large windows — features six bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and one half bath. It sits on a lot that spans three-quarters of an acre and includes a barn used as a three-car garage and a heated gunite in-ground pool, according to the listing.

“The current owners have renovated the house in a manner respectful of its era, yet mindful of today’s lifestyle,” listing agent Amy Barrett of Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty said in an e-mail to

All nine of the home’s fireplaces work, and there are hardwood floors throughout. Many of the rooms also have crown molding, the listing photos show.

Along with the many upgrades, including in the kitchen, the Thoreau-Alcott House also offers high ceilings, a feature Barrett noted was not common in the early 19th century. She said the ceilings were raised when the Alcott family bought the home. “It’s not what one thinks of as a standard antique, in my opinion, because of the height of the ceilings and the many updates that have been done,” Barrett said.

The pool and grounds behind the house can’t be seen from the road even though the home is “in the heart of Concord center,” Barrett said.

The garage itself actually stands three stories tall, the listing says. On the upper levels there’s a space with “striking” wooden beams across the ceiling. The space has radiant heat and its own full bathroom.

“It’s a very, very special property for many reasons,” Barrett said.

A native son of Concord, Thoreau attended Harvard University, and then lived in his hometown, according to a short biography in the Concord Free Library’s online resources.

Thoreau supported the abolitionist movement and was also anti-materialistic. He was friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott’s father, the biography says. Thoreau died of tuberculosis in the Yellow House in 1862.

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