Modern in Concord

ARCHITECTURE | DESIGN | COMMUNITY

Many architects recognized modern houses as tools for designing strong communities. Clustering modern houses on small lots left room for shared amenities like pools and tennis courts that, along with regular community events, reinforced neighborly bonds.

The earliest of these neighborhoods was Snake Hill in Belmont. Communities such as Kendal Common in Weston attracted residents with slogans like “building towards a better life.” Peacock Farm and Six Moon Hill, both in Lexington, remain tight-knit communities today.

Conantum was the largest modern neighborhood in Massachusetts and the first major residential development in Concord. Begun in 1951 and built in part by residents themselves, Conantum prized a cooperative spirit and still does. A unique clause in the original charter prevented the exclusion of buyers based on anything other than a willingness to commit to the community. Today Conantum includes over 100 homes on about 190 acres of land.

To view larger images, please click on the images below.

August 1851 Image of Conantum Pool by Sidney Lawton Smith

"I talked of buying Conantum once, but for want of money we did not come to terms. But I have farmed it in my own fashion every year since." Henry David Thoreau, Journal, August 1851 Image of Conantum Pool by Sidney Lawton Smith, 1931, courtesy British Museum.

The Conantum community

The Conantum community has preserved photographs that capture the process of building Conantum. 1952; photographer Robert Butman; courtesy Marcia Butman.

“Conantum in Concord….not just another housing project.” Newspaper Advertisement, undated [about 1950-51].

“Conantum in Concord….not just another housing project.” Newspaper Advertisement, undated [about 1950-51]. Courtesy Concord Free Public Library.

To Learn More

Explore Conantum’s history and neighborhood.

See the original homes of Conantum in photographs by the preeminent mid-century architectural photographer Ezra Stoller.

Experience the community of Conantum through oral histories of the people who live there.

Top image: Techbuilt on Derby land, February, 1955; courtesy Hanson Family, Alan Whitney Background image: Carl Koch’s “Barn,” May 1954; courtesy Tillotson Family, Alan Whitney.