By Joe Palumbo
Nestled on the side of the town square, fronted by the lane that leads to the North Bridge stands a solid and timeless building we know as the 1780 House. Throughout its two-hundred-plus-year history, it has served as a home and shops for many local families. Even the Thoreau family, perennial movers of houses in Concord, lived here and ran a small store in the early 19th century.
Most of the 20th-century locals remember it as F.M. Turmbull’s Country Store a haven for those who sought out the finest penny candy served lovingly in small paper bags full of Swedish fish nonpareils, and root beer suckers. Heck, even the New York Times wrote about it forty years ago with old-school pre-GPS driving directions from New York City to Concord “take the New England Thruway to the Connecticut Turnpike, etc”. Can you imagine the tweed-jacketed Manhattanite driving their weathered Volvo up the thruway with the Times article folded next to them on the vinyl seat as they carefully inched their way through multiple traffic lights of old Route 2 to arrive at this little village harboring its candied treasures?
Luckily for us in the 21st century, the 1780 House has been lovingly saved, restored, and reimagined by Maeve McWhinney and her husband. Maeve and her family have a passion for architecture, design, and restoring old homes and the 1780 House has undergone a three-year-long renovation with Carlisle-based builders, Adams & Beasley to fully strengthen and restore the building. Every inch of the building has been intentionally designed to reclaim as much original charm and history as possible, while also creating a more beautiful, thoughtful, and creative space. The passion Maeve has for the space and its history is obvious. An accomplished artist and a thoughtful preservationist herself Maeve remembers trips to the penny candy shop at The Country Store and has ensured that the space shares penny candy once again. The 1780 House is open to the public as an art gallery and store, available for private event rentals, and also used privately by Maeve as a creative space.
A wonderful time to make your visit to the 1780 House might be this Sunday, December 4th Concord Tree Light Celebration. On that evening the house will be open till 7 pm and will be warmed by several roaring fireplaces. Maeve and her family would love you to stop by, come inside and get warm that evening Plus a little secret she let us know about they will be giving out penny candy inside the gallery… and you don’t even have to brave the New England Thruway.
For More about the 1780 House
Joe Palumbo, born and raised in Concord on a farm along Battle Road works as an interpreter and tour guide here in town. He is focused on sharing both the well know and the lesser-known local narratives as we work to broaden the story of our town.