The Concord Scout House is an eighteenth century barn that was completely renovated in 1930 and became a community meeting resource with a dance floor and stage. It is located in downtown Concord, Massachusetts.
Early History: 1700's through 1925
The Scout House is the only barn to survive from several farms on the west side of lower Walden Street. The building was most likely moved to its current location, and may have been built in 1788, the early 19th century or 1850's-1870's.(2)
The Stow Barn
Shortly after the death of Peter Wheeler in 1813, the farm was purchased by two brothers: Cyrus and Nathan Stow. The Stows continued an extensive butchering business and added a large soap and candle factory. Cyrus Stow later served as Selectman and State Representative and was a generous local philanthropist. He moved to nearby 110 Walden Street and had Henry D. Thoreau design his front fence. After over 100 years with the Stow family, the property passed to First Parish Church in 1924. The Concord Scout House has long been known as the "Stow Barn".
Next door to the Stow barn, the original Trinitarian Congregational Church was built in 1826. The church burned in on October 4, 1925(7) and was rebuilt on the same foundation by local architect Harry B. Little.
Local Scout History: Since the inception of Scouting in the USA
Boy Scouts of America was formed on February 8, 1910, three years after Robert Baden-Powell held the first Boy Scout Camp in England.(6) President Taft and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt accepted titles of honorary President and Vice President of the Boy Scouts of America. Within two years there were Boy Scouts enrolled in every state. By 1921 there were over 500,000 registered Boy Scouts.
Campfire Girls was founded in 1910 in Vermont by Luther and Charlotte Gulick. By 1914 Concord girls had earned honor beads in the Punkatasset Campfire Girls.(7)
On March 2, 1912 the first Girl Guide (later changed to Girl Scout) troop meeting in America was held by Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia. Ms. Low had become involved with the Girl Guides formed in England by Agnes, Robert Baden-Powell's sister.
Concord Scout Sponsors
During World War II, the Concord Boy Scout Sponsors was formed (1943) to support and sponsor the eight existing troops and the Cub Scout packs while fathers were away in the military. The Concord Scout Sponsors (the name was changed in 1996) support local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. They own the 10-acre Scout Island in Warner's Pond, a canoe trailer and enough canoes, paddles, life preservers for scout use.(5)
Hundreds of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in Concord use the Scout House for meetings, overnights, adult meetings and training, equipment storage and special events. Out-of-town troops camp in the Scout House while they visit historic sights in Concord. The Concord Scout House is registered with the GSUSA Trekking Network. Many other community groups use the Scout House for dances, classes and activities at very affordable rates (see Community Activities).
Renovation and Organization: 1925-1988
The Scout House exemplifies some of the remarkable acts of generosity that occurred during the depression of the 1930's. Just three quarters of a year after the financial crash of 1929, the Trustees of the First Parish Church sold the vacant barn, on the bequeathed Stow property, to the Concord Girl Scouts for a nominal fee of $1,000.00.
Mary Chamberlin chaired the Construction Committee and contributed in many ways, down to planting the two hemlock trees in front. The Chamberlins were active at First Parish Church, where they sat in left side of the front central pew. Mary served on the Standing Committee of First Parish from 1933 to 1935 and was elected one of the first female Deacons there in 1981.
It was originally conceived that the barn could be torn down and a smaller house constructed in its place. Local architect Bill Kussin studied the building again and concluded that the frame, siding and foundation of the barn were sound and could be used to provide a larger house than originally planned for the same cost.
Shortly after construction, the Concord Massachusetts Girl Scouts, Inc. borrowed money to install a cement floor in the basement for more troop meetings. At a later date, the basement was partitioned off into four separate rooms with storage closets for the several troops. Various pieces of furniture have been donated through the years.
When the Girl Scouts Patriot's Trail Council was formed in the mid-1970's, the Scout House (owned by "The Concord Massachusetts Girl Scouts, Inc.") was reorganized into the Concord Girl Scout House to identify it as a community resource rather than a Girl Scouts of the United States of America property.
Interesting Trivia and Fun Facts
All the beams in the framework were hand-hewn and pegged together. The beams and pegs can still be seen in the walls of the dance hall.
Scout House Reel
In 1982, the Scout House Reel, a contra dance named after the Concord Scout House, was published by the Country Dance and Song Society of America, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
God Bless America
On November 11 (Armistice Day), 1938, Kate Smith sang Irving Berlin's new "peace" song, God Bless America. As the world again dealt with war, Irving Berlin established the God Bless America Fund, dedicating the royalties from this immediately successful song to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.
The centennial celebration of 1875 was a gala event, attended by President Grant and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The weather was 20 degrees, the grandstand collapsed and there were no seats saved for women, but there was a successful outdoor banquet for thousands.(7) About the centennial celebration of April 19, 1875, Louisa May Alcott wrote:
By and by there will come a day of reckoning and the taxpaying women of Concord will not be forgotten, I think, will not be left to wait uncalled upon, or be considered in the way; and then I devoutly wish that those [women] will follow in the footsteps of their forefathers, and will offer another protest that shall be "heard round the world."(3)
At the bicentennial celebration in 1975, the Concord Girl Scouts produced a time capsule to be buried under Chester French's Minuteman statue at the North Bridge. This ceremony was attended by President Ford. The capsule is intended to stay in place until April 19, 2075.
Since the 1940's social dance classes for children have been held at the Scout House. The Concord Dancing School transferred to the nonprofit Concord Parents' League in the late 1960's. Since 1974 Paul Lamoreaux has been the impressive and popular instructor of legions of middle school children.
Concord-San Marcos Sister City Dances
From 1988 to 2006 the Concord-San Marcos Sister City Committee rented the Scout House for fundraising dances. This committee, under the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council, was part of a town effort to encourage peace and understanding through cultural exchange between Concord and San Marcos, Nicaragua. The committee contributed money towards medical, educational and financial aid to the people of San Marcos.
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|74 Walden Street, P.O. Box 73, Concord, MA 01742, USA :: Phone: (978) 369-3455|