I’m still sorting through doors from Concord, Massachusetts, but I found two buildings that are curiously linked, so I thought I’d feature them together today. Why would I use the word “curious?” Well, how often do you run into a church that owns a tavern? Note: most of what follows is paraphrased from an article in Wicked Local, a web-based news site featuring information from the Concord Journal. So, how does a church come to own a tavern?
Let’s start with the tavern. To be specific, the Wright Tavern. Just like the Minutemen in neighboring Lexington, who prepared for battle in the Buckman Tavern, the Minutemen in Concord met in Wright’s Tavern. And, two of those meetings, one in 1774 and one in 1775, played an important role in US history.
On October 11, 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts convened at the town Meeting house in Concord, MA. This, in and of itself was against the law, as established by the Crown’s authority (England). The colonists knew that war with England was imminent, and rules and resolutions had to be established.
“Key committees met at the Wright Tavern to hammer out resolutions on the military, safety, and tax collections to prepare for the looming confrontation with the British…
…Rev. William Emerson, the eloquent and fiery patriot minister of First Parish in Concord, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, opened the sessions with a prayer and officiated as chaplain.”
There’s our first connection between these two buildings. Actually, I’m sure the connection had been well established before then. The first thing people did when establishing a town in New England was to build a church. I’m guessing that shortly thereafter, some enterprising young man built a tavern.
Again, from the article:
“The second event occurred in the wee hours of the historic morning of April 19, 1775 when Concord’s Minute Men assembled at the Wright Tavern ready to defend their town against an advancing 700-man British Expeditionary Force. By 7:30 a.m., the Minute Men had cleared out of the Tavern to join a larger patriot force and soon afterward the British troops moved in to establish their own headquarters under the command of Lt. Col. Francis Smith.”
The tavern was privately held before, and after the war. I’m not sure how long the British occupied the building but I’m guessing the conveniences of a tavern were kept in good working order during that time. Unfortunately, after well over 100 years, the tavern building was showing its age. Two men, Judge Ebenezer Hoar and Reuben Rice decided to act, so that the building should be preserved and kept out of private hands. They purchased the building in 1882 and then donated it to First Parish in 1885 to preserve it as an historical site.
After another 80 – 100 years, the fate of the Wright Tavern got a little more complicated. On Jan. 20, 1961, US Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton, ruled that the Wright Tavern is “an historical site of exceptional value in commemorating and illustrating the history of the United States.” As of that date, the Wright Tavern has been registered as a National Historic Landmark.
One last bit from the article:
“There should be no doubt that First Parish in Concord has faithfully carried out its mission to maintain and preserve the Wright Tavern intact. But, given the Tavern’s significance as a National Historic Landmark, it is timely to elevate the property to the next level of proper display of the building’s interior and broadening of public access to the site.”
Today, members of the town’s historic commission are working with the First Parish Trustees to make the tavern accessible as a museum and to open the building to residents and tourists.
These doors are presented today as a contribution to the weekly blogfest created by Norm Frampton and known as Thursday Doors. Each week the door faithful gather at Norm’s place (near the church and tavern in Montreal) and share photos and stories about doors. If you’re interested in seeing more doors, or, if you have a door/few doors to share, head on up to Norm’s place. Check out his doors and follow the instructions to add yours or find the others.
Thanks for spending some time at No Facilities.