Thursday, April 17, 2014

Concord is what I see when I dream of New England

Just a week and a half has passed and here I am, back in Boston! This time it is a vacation with The Amazing Ms. D. Truthfully this is the first time i have been to Beantown on vacation in several years and I am looking forward to it.

On the way in we decided to stop in the historic town of Concord MA. That is - as in the Battle of Lexington and Concord(1775), you know Paul Revere and all that. Concord is a lovely town that looks exactly like what I see when I think of a New England town, with all of the colonial touches there and none of reinactors (take that Williamsburg). It has the white clapboard churches and brick front houses. Shops to look in on, food to eat and a fantastic bookstore.

The commercial center of Concord is small, about 6-8 square blocks, and can be easily seen in 1-2 hours (more if you if eat or spend a lot time in the stores. There are also several historic buildings/museums nearby and of course the Minute Man National Historic Park is just 4 miles away. But we were getting to town around 3:30, so we skipped all that historical stuff and headed right for the town center.

The center of town is the Monument Square, where Lexington Road, Lowell Road and Main Street come together.(see map). The square sits to the northwest of the intersection of these roads. sitting in the middle is an obelisk monument to those Concord residents who died during the Civil War. Tributes to other war dead sit in a square called the Millbank because it used to be a dam along the Mill Brook that formed the Mill Bank pond in colonial times.

At the head of Main Street sits The Holy Family R.C. Church.

Holy Family Church - what a New England church should look like.
When I picture a New England Church in my mind, this what I have always seen. white, clapboard. not overpowering its surroundings. Pristine clean lines. Half a block away along Lexington Road sits the First Unitarian Church:

First Unitarian Church Tower
 This church is bigger, but lacks a cross, so I thought it was the town hall at first.

Main Street is lined by shops and restaurants. These include several art galleries, home shops, antiques, curios. It also included our favorite shop The Concord Bookshop. Now a bookshop is one of the most dangerous places for wallets of me and The Amazing Ms. D. (The other is a yarn shop, but that is for another post). But if we are going to spend money and support an independent book seller over those 2 mega-sellers who shall go unnamed here, the Concord Bookshop is a wonderful place to do it. The shelves are polished wood, the staff is friendly and helpful. The selection is wide and deep. This store is well worth and hour or two to explore.
The Amazing Ms. D with some of our new finds
Walking around the center of town also include the kind of sights that show up only in this part of the country - 250 year old houses and traditional street signs:

The Main Street Market sits in an old grist mill that dates back to the Revolutionary War.

 Signs on Walden Street
The Universalist Church Parish House
Independence Court

To say that Concord MA is the archetypal New England town sounds like a redundancy. But really, if you want to see what revolutionary towns looked like (just with cars now) Concord is worth the trip.

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