Hand tinted photograph of Pleasant View, home and gardens, post-1895 (P06829).
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library
When Mary Baker Eddy was living at a house on North State Street in Concord, New Hampshire, she discovered what would become her home for the next 16 years. Irving C. Tomlinson, one of her secretaries, remembered how, in the fall of 1891 Eddy found a rundown farmhouse on Pleasant Street during one of her cherished carriage rides:
On one occasion when she was working earnestly to know her rightful place, as she passed Pleasant View the sun suddenly came out from behind the clouds and shone brightly upon this spot. She felt that it was a pointing from divine Mind and at once decided to make her home there. She never regretted this decision….1
Over the course of her residence at Pleasant View, she had the property extensively remodeled to become the estate shown in these pictures.2 The hand-tinted photograph above shows the front and east sides of the house and gardens, providing a view of the fountain in the foreground and the stables off to the west. It depicts the house after 1895, when the exterior color was changed from red to yellow.3 This photograph offers us an insight into how beautiful the estate must have appeared to visitors.
By relocating from Boston to Concord, Eddy was able to distance herself from the demands of daily church administration. Her initial move there in 1889 took place as she resigned her pastorate in the Boston church, transferred control over The Christian Science Journal, and dissolved the Massachusetts Metaphysical College.4 These changes allowed her more time for reflection, which she needed in order to complete a major revision of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It was also intended to provide others with the opportunity to take on greater leadership roles within the church. While Eddy was no longer physically at the center of church activity, her 1892 move to Pleasant View did not mean she had retired. She continued to take correspondence and receive visitors. Somewhat reluctantly she continued to advise on some church matters and provide strong direction on others. She utilized couriers as well as the telegraph to convey messages to church officials in Boston. Her staff also utilized a telephone, although she did not.5 In this way she was able to have the best of both worlds, returning to her native New Hampshire and creating a home for herself while remaining connected to her life’s work.
From the beginning, Eddy took an active role in managing Pleasant View, from the remodeling of the house to the selection of plants and animals. She provided direction on purchasing land for the expansion and improvement of the property.6 She took a particular interest in the grounds seen in this image, telling Tomlinson that a proper home must include well-kept lawns and gardens.7 Throughout her residence she remained focused on ensuring that everything remained, above all, unpretentious and efficient.8 Joseph Mann, grounds superintendent of Pleasant View for a number of years, recalled that “it was only her own mental concept of divine possibilities to be humanly evolved by that transformation of an abandoned New England farm into a well ordered simple estate, which, as her restful abode, was also beautiful to look upon by those who loved her.”9 Her new home offered a welcome respite from the demands placed on her in Boston and provided the opportunity to look to the future of the church.
One of the ways Eddy remained connected to her followers was by asking them to join her at her country home. She did this on several occasions, beginning in July 5, 1897, when she invited some of those who had attended Communion services at The Mother Church in Boston to visit her in Concord. Trains were organized and carriages conveyed the travelers from the station to Pleasant View. There she treated them to a short address.10 Over the years several other gatherings took place at Pleasant View, the last in 1903 attracting over 10,000 people.11 On that occasion, she welcomed her visitors to “your home in my heart,” adding, “Welcome to Pleasant View, but not to varying views.”12 The image above captures a smaller gathering of approximately 3,000 in June 1901. Visitors were allowed to tour the grounds, taking in the landscaping that Eddy had put so much thought into. As with other pilgrimages to Pleasant View, a highlight of the visit was her appearance on the balcony of her home. According to The Boston Globe, “Her step was firm. Her manner was impressive. Her movement was graceful as viewed against the background of sky and the swaying branches a slight breeze had risen from the valley that stretched away to the distant hills.”13 For many Pleasant View came to represent the grace and strength they had long found in her.Eddy left Pleasant View for the last time in January 1908, departing Concord for her new home in Chestnut Hill, a village of Newton, MA. As the Concord Daily Patriot reported, “Mrs. Eddy was loved in Concord, and she takes with her the abiding affection of our people, not because of what she has… but almost wholly for what she is.”14
- Rem. Irving Tomlinson, 734-735.
- Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998), 386.
- Faith’s Temple,” The Boston Sunday Globe, January 6, 1895; “Pleasant View— A Home for Mary Baker Eddy,” Longyear Museum and Historical Society Quarterly News, 29, No. 1 (Spring 1992), 433-438.
- “Official Minutes of Fourth Annual Meeting, N.C.S. Association,” The Christian Science Journal, July 1889, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/d2100nivos?s=t; Mary B. G. Eddy, “Special Notice From Rev. Mary B.G. Eddy,” Journal, June 1889, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/d2100nivm0?s=t; Eddy, “Massachusetts Metaphysical College,” Journal, September 1889, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/lx1urpkaik?s=t.
- Gill, 383-384, 393.
- Rem. Joseph Mann, 45-46, 52-53.
- Rem. Tomlinson, 736.
- Rem. Mann, 16, 65; Rem. Tomlinson, 735.
- Rem. Mann, 6.
- “Our Fourth of July,” The Christian Science Journal, August 1897, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/11o7cmes4wk?s=t.
- “The Communion and Annual Meeting,” Christian Science Sentinel, July 4, 1903, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/12rwnh1p2jq?s=t.
- Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1913), 170.
- “The Visit to Pleasant View,” Sentinel, July 4, 1901, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/6a6s1lqawa?s=t.
- Edwin J. Park, “Mrs. Eddy Moves to Greater Boston,” Christian Science Sentinel, February 1, 1908, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/twx2nt1ncq?s=t; “What the Local Papers Said,” Christian Science Sentinel, February 1, 1908, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/uwd60z4eii?s=t.