Joined at the Hip – Thursday Doors

First Parish Church – Concord, MA

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.

64 thoughts on “Joined at the Hip – Thursday Doors

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  1. Apologies to my early readers and those reading from email. This post never made it to The Editor and, apparently was never finished (although it was scheduled). A quick visit this morning revealed many typos. Hopefully, I have corrected them all.

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    1. That’s an interesting way of looking at it, Pam. I think it’s interesting that, when looking for someone to watch over it, they chose the church and not the local government – maybe they were ahead of their time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting history lesson. I really like the “old” photographs, especially the one of the tavern showing the horse and buggy. It really hasn’t changed, except for age. I get a kick out of the church and tavern being alongside each other. But I guess that’s the difference between a tavern and a bar. Drinking in both establishments, but totally opposite meeting places!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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    1. Thanks Ginger. I’ve been disappointed that so many of the NRHP entries for this area have “not been digitized yet.” It makes finding the historic photos so much harder and often means I might be using copyrighted sources, which I try to avoid. Fortunately, the Wright Tavern’s nomination form has been digitized (might as well start with the tavern). I often wonder what it was like back then. People had family, work, church and each other to occupy themselves. Not like the world of distraction we live in today.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Gwen. Sorting through these photos is slow-going, but it’s fascinating. I see doors in Thursday Doors (from others) that go back many centuries. This is about as old as it gets for us.

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  3. Interesting twist of events. I am not sure which is stranger the fact that both forces met there on the same day or that a government official deemed it a historic site and handed over control to a church. Both events extremely twitterable. And today’s second collection will be for a new roof and three barrels of ale at Wright’s bar.

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    1. I think I would have volunteered to be on one of the committees that met at the bar. It is interesting that the tavern was occupied on the first day of the battle. I do think that second collection would be well-supported.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve heard of churches that were converted into taverns but never a church that owned one. The historical pics give you a good idea of how well they took care of the place and how little has changed. Fascinating post Dan. Thanks for sharing this bit of history :-)

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  5. I would like to think of town founders and men of fortune banging out deals and proposing ideas with pints and napkins… I can see it now. Why not then, too? A church that owns a tavern is probably better than most.
    The church is beautiful and yet, I love the black and white tavern photo — which really are a contrast to one another. Nice choice!

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    1. Thanks Joey. I can easily imagine our founding fathers and military leaders banging out the plans at the bar. When I was consulting, my best friend John and I often planned the next day’s activities over dinner at a bar. Granted, we weren’t starting a revolution, but, you know, it’s all kind of the same.

      I love it when I can find the old photos of these places.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I first tripped over the connection between taverns and rebellion when researching the Rebellion of Upper Canada (now Ontario). At first it amused me but the logic of hatching and executing a plan of rebellion from a tavern makes perfect sense. Alcohol is the great instigator shenanigans 🙂
    Connecting the tavern to the church however wasn’t so obvious. This sounds like the kind of church I might want to belong to 😉

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    1. Thanks Joanne – I do think plans like this could easily be formalized in a tavern. It struck me as odd that they had mentioned also having a Town Meeting House, so there must have been some government body. Yet, they chose the church when they needed someone to trust with the building’s future. Maybe government back then wasn’t any better than it is today.

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  7. You’re in my neighborhood, Dan. I live in a town close to Concord and walk it almost weekly, passing by history foot by foot. Fun to see these photos of places I know so well. The only “tavern” I visit is the Colonial Inn (with a neat old tavern in the back corner), down a block or so from the church, where many colonials enjoyed a brew as they brewed plans for this country…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so cool! I will be sharing doors from here for several weeks. I blame it on spring fever. I had been trapped inside for so many weeks, this was my first real chance to get out and walk around.

      I’ve stayed in the Colonial Inn (that was last week’s post). We used to have a meeting their every January.

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  8. Have to admit that these past periods in history are confusing to me, because I always think of the US as pioneers who came here and stayed. In school, we didn’t hear much about the wars! I guess it wasn’t totally the land of hope and glory like we, across from the ocean. learned, lol.

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  9. Two impressive buildings, historically and architecturally. I didn’t realize the tavern was given to the church to keep it preserved and out of private hands. Excellent doors post, Dan!

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    1. I’m glad you found it interesting, Glynis. I didn’t find any information to indicate if the tavern had been added onto at some point. It looks pretty large in the historic photo. Maybe a tavern was just that important ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking back on this, Deborah. Someone else mentioned that the tavern probably had guest rooms, and I’m guessing that it was the family home as well. All the fireplaces are interesting to see, because we were told during a tour of Old Sturbridge Village that families did not try to heat their homes (there wasn’t enough firewood) but that they mainly used fireplaces for cooking. These look like they were for heat.

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