A Moving Work of Art
One of the first things you will notice on this 1851 Abbot and Downing stagecoach is its bright, vibrant color, and the almost Baroque-style design stretching across the side, with colorful western Americana illustrations on the door and under the driver’s seat. This style of coach was named for where it was built, Concord, New Hampshire.
Coach makers J. Stephen Abbot and Lewis Downing wanted to create stagecoaches that not only offered comfortable rides, but vehicles that could elegantly stand out on America’s roads. These dazzling wagons easily outshined the wretched roads over which they traveled. Each Concord-style coach sported oil paintings on the doors and could have been mistaken for just another pretty face. But the coaches’ sturdy construction was a match for the nation’s rough and rugged roads.
The coaches were built in six, nine and 12-passenger sizes (not counting passengers who rode on the roof when the coach was full). The mail was typically carried in a space under the driver's seat while baggage could be held by the rack on top or in the rear compartment.
After twenty years in business together, Abbott and Downing went their separate ways in an amicable split. Downing continued to build Concord coaches and the two companies merged again in 1865, when Lewis Downing, Jr. and J.S. and E.A. Abbott Company formed the Abbott-Downing Company. Coaches, wagons and carriages continued to be manufactured under that company's name until 1919.
The Concord stagecoach can be found in the museum's "Moving the Mail" exhibit located in the building's grand 90-foot atrium.