On a recent Sunday afternoon my wife and I were driving north from Manchester, New Hampshire, on state route 3A when we saw a sign announcing the birthplace of Mary Baker Eddy.
Since I’m a historian of American religion and we taking the old road to see the countryside, I turned up the narrow road. Paved with unlined asphalt and shaded by overhanging trees, it immediately reminded me of the road to Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Vermont, which we had visited on a similar trip over a decade ago. I wondered if there would be Christian Scientists at the birthplace eager to tell us about Mrs. Eddy as there were Latter-day Saint missionaries eager to tell us about the prophet.
But before I could think too much about whether I really wanted to have that conversation, and how the declining nature of this movement made that unlikely, we were at the end of the road. And not only were there no Christian Scientists, there was no building, only an informational sign, a few benches, an open field, and visible foundations of the old homestead.
Interstate 93 runs immediately to the west of the birthplace and the constant roar of the traffic diluted the peaceful scene a bit. But the view eastward toward the Merrimack River is rewarding and conjures the peacefulness of rural life that this largely urban religious tradition reverenced.
I believe the site is maintained by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Concord, but there is little information on it online. If you want to visit, the site is located in Bow, New Hampshire and its location is marked on Facebook.