Arts & Culture

Behind the Tour: The Old Manse

In the heart of Concord beside Minute Man National Historic Park stands a building rich with stories Trustees’ interpreters skillfully share.

Marybeth Kelly, Trustees Lead Historic Interpreter, and Victor Curran, Interpreter, at The Old Manse.

With so many historic spots to visit during your trip to Concord, Massachusetts did you know that The Old Manse is one of the most recommended stops?  

“If you go to the Concord Visitor Center, the number one thing they’ll tell you is a must-do while in town is take a tour at The Old Manse,” said Marybeth Kelly, Trustees Lead Historic Interpreter at the property. “That has everything to do with the amazing interpreters who conduct such a wide variety of engaging tours here.” 

These tours include nearly every aspect of The Old Manse, from the residents involved in two different revolutions, to the complex and vital women who lived there, to the stories of the enslaved individuals on the property, and even the tales hidden in the attic. It’s the stories of the people of The Old Manse that really bring the place alive, and the interpreters who take you on these guided tours love to share them. 

“I’m very lucky to be in a place where so much happened and so there are endless stories to tell,” said Trustees Interpreter Victor Curran. “There are important stories that didn’t used to get told that we are now diving into and are able to share with visitors.

Meet Victor Curran

A messaged etched onto the window of The Old Manse.

© David Kasabian

Curran has lived in Concord for over 30 years and fell in love with history after retiring from a career in printing and publishing. The literary history of The Old Manse fascinated him and so, after getting certified as a tour guide in Concord, he became an interpreter with The Trustees. 

Now, Curran teaches that same certification course alongside classes solely on the history of the women of Concord. That’s why it’s no surprise a favorite story of his from The Old Manse involves one of the historic women of the property. 

Etched into a windowpane in what was once Sophia Peabody Hawthorne’s first-floor studio is a message from the accomplished painter. “Endymion painted in this room – finished January 20, 1844,” reads one of the inscriptions that are still clearly viewable today. 

“200 years later and it’s like she’s reaching out across the centuries and meeting us,” said Curran. “When visitors are standing right in that spot, it’s magic.”

Meet Richard Piccarreto

Marybeth Kelly, Trustees Lead Historic Interpreter, and Richard Piccarreto, Cultural Site Interpreter, at The Old Manse.

Cultural Site Interpreter Richard Piccarreto has been with the team at The Old Manse for just over three years. After decades of working in digital imaging and marketing, the pandemic granted him time for introspection, which turned into a pursuit for his passion of American history. 

The Old Manse ended up being the perfect spot for Piccarreto as it blended this passion for history with his love for literature. After all, famous authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne both lived in the historic house for a time. 

Now as a Cultural Site Interpreter for The Trustees, one of Piccarreto’s favorite stories to share during guided tours is that of Emerson’s literary journey. Emerson’s approach to spirituality and self-reliance in the face of the 1840s transition from agriculture to industry is what make him one of Piccarreto’s favorite authors. 

“It’s really great to share these stories of independence—religious, spiritual, and political—that Emerson embodies with visitors,” said Piccarreto. “But overall, there’s such a deep vortex of history here at The Old Manse that always keeps me coming back for more.”

Meet Bob Prestidge

Bob Prestidge, Steward of The Old Manse.

Even if you can’t make it for a guided tour of the historic museum home, the beautifully maintained grounds are open every day for free from sunrise to sunset with the help of Bob Prestidge, Steward of The Old Manse. 

“I was really drawn to the landscape, its location, and how much local residents love the place,” said Prestidge who’s been the steward for over six years. “Now I can say that I truly appreciate everything, from its history to the people I get to work with.”  

Stroll through the flower garden, navigate a small grass maze, wind your way through the orchard, and catch a glimpse of the Concord River as you explore all the grounds have to offer. Then pop right over to Minute Man National Historic Park and the famous North Bridge and Minute Man Statue which are directly next door. 

Stop at The Old Manse when visiting Concord this summer! If you’re interested in taking a tour, advance passes are highly recommended. 

You Might Also Enjoy

Join the Trustees

Enjoy 120 sites featuring inspired trails, historic homes, beautiful gardens, farms, summer camps and more.
Become a Member

Lend a Hand

Join a community passionate about a sustainable future and engaged in diverse projects across the state.

Support Our Work

We rely on your generous support to protect the irreplaceable landscapes and landmarks of Massachusetts.