Today I went with some friends to visit Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott and the location from which she wrote Little Women. The house is in Concord. It was cute. We got a guided tour, all for a whopping total of $2.66 because one of my friends got us free museum passes from the local library.
The house has been left largely in its original state, except for the fact that they built a foundation for it when it started sinking. All of the furniture is supposedly where it’s supposed to have been, down to the pictures hanging on the wall painted by May Alcott. They were pretty good pictures. The house smelled New England-y, has family heirlooms everywhere. We heard about how Louisa made the family rich with her books, saw the desk from where she wrote the stories, saw family portraits, the whole deal.
As we walked through, I couldn’t help but think about other historical sites I’ve been to recently. Six months ago I was standing on 2000 year old marble in the Roman forum and walking around the perimeter of the site where Christians were martyred at the Coliseum. Five months ago I was standing in the ruins of a Byzantine Emperor’s palace.
Not to say that Orchard wasn’t fun, or doesn’t hold significance, but I think you can learn a lot about a culture by looking at what kinds of things they value as historical landmarks. What are the huge landmarks of Ancient Rome? Coliseum, Roman forum…Renaissance Italy? Pieces of art in the Vatican Museum, the cathedrals of Florence and Siena, monumental churches…America? Houses of people who wrote books, battlefields…If the house that Herodotus lived in was still standing, would that become a tourist attraction? Probably…but his book also survived thousands of years…
But I guess I’m not really being fair to America…they haven’t been around for two thousand years for books to last that long.