Swampscott, Massachusetts (1865-1866)

While living here, Mary Baker Eddy experienced a severe injury and subsequent recovery through prayer that set her life on a new course. She later referred to this house as the birthplace of Christian Science.

The Story

In late 1865, after a series of moves, Mrs. Eddy and her second husband, Daniel Patterson, rented an apartment on the second floor of this house on Paradise Road. Daniel Patterson joined a dental practice in the booming nearby city of Lynn. They both joined in the life of the community — especially Mary, writing for the newspapers, attending church, and participating in Temperance meetings.

In February 1866, on her way to one such meeting, Mary fell on an icy sidewalk. The fall caused severe internal injuries, according to the physician who was called. When he brought her back to this apartment, she was in critical condition, barely able to move, let alone walk. His prognosis was dire: If she survived, she might never live a normal life. But it seemed she might not survive.

Friends kept a watch day and night. Her minister was called for. On Sunday, lying helplessly on a cot near the heated stove in the kitchen, she prayed and sought help from her Bible. An account of Jesus healing the sick inspired a moment of profound insight. She pulled herself up from the cot and crossed the room unaided, to sit in a chair. Her friends were amazed. “This is all through prayer,” she assured them. When Mrs. Longyear located this house in 1920, she found a witness who, over fifty years later, still recalled vividly the events of that weekend.

Soon after her remarkable recovery the house was sold. The Pattersons moved to a succession of rented rooms. During these months Daniel Patterson deserted her. Mrs. Eddy found herself impoverished, still frail, and alone. But this healing, here, marked such a turning point in her thought that she once referred to this house as the “birthplace of Christian Science.”

The House

In 1866 Mrs. Eddy, describing the grounds of this house on Paradise Lane, spoke of “a gracefully sloping lawn — a fountain of crystal water beautifully bordered by the weeping willow — fruit trees ranged in stately rows.” Today the orchard is gone. The grounds are smaller. But they have been beautifully restored to a period-inspired landscape design. The house exterior also has been restored. The upstairs parlor, bedrooms, and kitchen where she lived are furnished in typical nineteenth-century style. This house was located by Mrs. Longyear in 1920.

Visitor Information

Address

23 Paradise Road, Swampscott, MA 01907

Hours

This house will be closed for the day on October 20.

Tour is paired with the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House in Lynn, Massachusetts. Please meet at the house in Swampscott, Massachusetts.

May 1 – October 31

Thursday – Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm; Sunday, 1 – 4 pm. Closed holidays. Also by appointment (48-hour advance notice suggested).

November 1 – April 30

By appointment (48-hour advance notice suggested).

Tours

Tours are by appointment only (48-hour advance notice suggested). Call 781.599.1853, or message us. $10.00 suggested donation for the combined tour. Longyear members and children under 12 are free.

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