Franklin Sanborn House and Schoolroom

This house was built in 1850 for one of Concord’s most distinguished citizens, Judge Rockwood Hoar. Whether he lived here is uncertain, but it was sold after a short time to a young Franklin Sanborn, (b. 1831) who had come to Concord at the urging of Ralph Waldo Emerson to start a private academy.

It is said to have been planned as a reopening of the old academy. He set up his school in this house in about 1853 and among his students were Emerson’s own children and the sons of Nathaniel Hawthorne, brothers of Henry James and Horace Mann.

Like his neighbor F.E. Bigelow, Franklin Sanborn was an outspoken abolitionist — in fact, one of the leaders of the movement. He was also secretary of the executive committee of the Emigrant Aid Society, which had been formed to help resettle Free-Soilers. He had a close association with John Brown, whom he helped obtain weapons for his campaign in Kansas. Because it was thought he might have some information on Brown’s ill-fated raid at Harper’s Ferry, a US Marshal was sent to take Sanborn to Washington to testify.

According to tradition, the Marshal and his party hid in the neighboring Conant barn, and appeared suddenly at Sanborn’s door to take him by surprise and arrest him. Sanborn’s sister, Sarah, roused Judge Hoar, who drew up a writ of habeas corpus and had Sanborn released. The next night some local boys, in protest against the Marshall’s use of the Conant barn as a hiding place, set it on fire.

By 1881, the home was the property of Mrs. Margaret F. Cutter, who converted it to a boarding
house. Among her boarders were several teachers at the neighboring Emerson School. Her son, Capt. Frank E. Cutter, was leader of the Concord militia from to 1886-1894. He also served as selectman for four terms, and married Caroline Elizabeth Brooks, daughter of Judge George M. Brooks.

Mrs. Cutter’s daughter married Henry D. Coolidge, Clerk of the Massachusetts Senate in 1889. By 1920 the building again took in paying guests, this time under the ownership of Mary Wheeler Cook, daughter of Caleb and Sarah Wheeler, as “the Homeworth Inn.”

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