In June of 1903 a crowd of about 10,000 people flocked to the Concord estate of a New Hampshire native who by then had become one of the most influential women in the country. Her name was Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer and founder of a Christian denomination and system of healing still practiced today in 80 countries around the globe – Christian Science.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, said of Mrs. Eddy, “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman – so great I believe that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great.” Miss Barton said she was the one person, regardless of sex, who had done the greatest good for mankind.
Mary Baker Eddy lived in Concord from 1889 to 1907, and was one of its most famous citizens. She took a daily drive through the streets of Concord and often helped those in need.
The existing record of Mrs. Eddy’s charitable contributions shows a broad range of interests. She contributed to or funded a number of causes while living in the state capital, a few of which include: the provision of shoes to Concord’s indigent children over a number of years; the paving of major streets in the town; the restoration of fire-damaged buildings at a nearby Shaker community; the town’s YMCA building fund; the New Hampshire Historical Society; Dartmouth College fund for building a hall; the Concord Congregational church to aid repairs; the Bow Bog Methodist Church bell; the relief fund for victims of the 1900 flood in Galveston, Texas; and the relief fund for victims of the San Francisco earthquake in 1908.
Mary Baker Eddy also helped to design and build the granite Christian Science church on the corner of North State and School Streets.
Concord appreciated Mrs. Eddy’s contributions to the community. When she moved from Concord back to the Boston area in 1908, a group of Wonolancet Club members (now the Bow Brook Club) estimated how much Mrs. Eddy’s stay of almost twenty years among them had financially benefited the city of Concord. A conservative estimate was about $1.5 million, which in today’s dollars would be about $40 million.
While residing in Concord, Mrs. Eddy also healed some of Concord’s residents. For example, a Methodist minister, Rev. E.N. Larmour of nearby Bow, was healed of the need to wear eyeglasses (Mary Baker Eddy, Years of Authority by Robert Peel, p. 469); and a reporter visiting Concord from a New York newspaper was healed of throat cancer (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy by Irving Tomlinson, p. 63).
In addition to publishing eleven books, in her 88th year, after leaving Concord in 1908, Mrs. Eddy established an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. It started as a result of her legal challenges with the tabloid journalism of her day while residing in Concord. Its object and journalistic ethic established by Mrs. Eddy is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” Winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, the Monitor in each of its issues offers balanced, in-depth news coverage to inform readers of the opportunities and problems of peoples and countries throughout the world, along with a religious article giving healing solutions to problems faced by mankind.
In 1992, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures received the National Women’s Book Association award as one of the 75 books whose words have changed the world. About 11 million copies (in 17 languages) have been sold since it was first published.
In 1995, Mary Baker Eddy was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for leaving an indelible mark on society, religion, and journalism. She was the first American woman to found a world-wide religion.
“When I removed from Boston in 1889 and came to Concord, New Hampshire,” Mrs. Eddy wrote in 1904 in a letter to the Editor of the Concord Monitor, “it was that I might find retirement from many years of incessant labor for the Cause of Christian Science, and the opportunity in Concord’s quiet to revise our textbook, ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.’ Here let me add that, together with the retirement I so much coveted, I have also received from the leading people in this pleasant city all and more than I anticipated. I love its people – love their scholarship, friendship, and granite character. I respect their religious beliefs and thank their ancestors for helping to form mine.”
© 2015 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire.