The engaging history of this home touches on the military and the literary, but it's mostly the story of a family. The Rev. William Emerson built the Old Manse in 1770 and watched the Battle of Concord from the yard. He died during the Revolutionary War, and for almost 170 years the house was home to his widow, her second husband (Rev. Ezra Ripley), their descendants, and two famous friends. Nathaniel Hawthorne and his bride, Sophia Peabody, moved in after marrying in 1842 and stayed for 3 years. As a wedding present, Henry David Thoreau sowed a vegetable garden; today, a re-creation of the garden is part of a self-guided tour of the grounds. William Emerson's grandson Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote the essay "Nature" here, in the same study where Hawthorne later toiled. On the guided tour (the only way to visit the house), you'll see mementos and memorabilia of the Emerson and Ripley families and of the Hawthornes, who scratched notes on two windows with Sophia's diamond ring.