Historic inn gets back to its origins, with a modern splash

photos by Michael Partenio

The refurbishing of the Hawthorne Inn in Concord brought together plush furnishings and Harlequin wallpaper with some sleek touches.

By Jaci Conry Globe Correspondent 

For years, when he was working for various technology and software corporations, Mark Vella drove past the Hawthorne Inn on Lexington Road in Concord. Situated along Concord’s historic mile — a short stroll to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House and not far from the Ralph Waldo Emerson property — the 1860s structure had been an inn for over 40 years when Vella noticed it was for sale during the spring of 2016.

Though Vella and his wife, Antonia Vicente, have lived in New England for a decade, he is a native of the United Kingdom and she hails from Spain. They also have a 15-year-old son. “Years ago, before we became parents and before we moved to this country, we fantasized about opening a bed and breakfast in the olive groves of Spain,” recalls Vella.


The long-ago fantasy was triggered when the couple, on a whim, decided to tour the Hawthorne Inn.

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“It’s such a unique property, in a unique location, entrenched in the literary history of New England. Buying the property seemed like an amazing opportunity,” says Vella.

The house was originally part of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s estate. Emerson later sold it to Bronson Alcott. Later, Nathaniel Hawthorne acquired it. A land survey of the parcel dated 1860 is signed by Henry David Thoreau.

By June 2016, Vella and Vicente owned the property. After operating the inn as it was last summer and fall, they closed in November to embark upon an aggressive seven-month-long renovation. Boston interior designer Rachel Reider ( came on board to reimagine the seven guest rooms and bathrooms along with the common areas.

The idea was to take the structure back to its original look and feel, while infusing the interiors with a modern vibe that appeals to contemporary travelers. The pink stucco that was put on the façade in the 1920s was removed to reveal original clapboards and a new wrap around porch was adde that echoes the vernacular of the era.


When Vella and Vicente purchased the inn, along with it came a sizable collection of antique furniture. Reider revived many pieces, including several four-poster beds that looked dated and tired. By painting them with vibrant lacquer tones, the beds now feel modern and lively. As a nod to the area’s literary history and to accommodate the stream of writers who stay at the inn, each room contains an antique writing desk.

“Each guest room is unique and has its own identity,” says Reider, who created a broad color palette for the inn based on various jewel tones. “The goal was to make spaces feel warm and inviting no matter what season it is, since the inn is open year round.”

With its plush velvet furnishings and striking Harlequin wallpaper featuring metallic botanical elements, the lounge is comfortable and layered with elements that would appeal to any urban design lover. Yet details that recall the origins of the structure abound: an oversize chandelier is comprised of antique mirrored glass and classic black Windsor chairs have chartreuse cushions. The feel throughout the space is a perfect pairing of old and new that seems poised to ensure the legacy of the Hawthorne Inn endures.

462 Lexington Road, Concord.

Jaci Conry can be reached at