J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Minute Man National Historical Park to Grow

Today’s Boston Globe brought the welcome news that Congress and the President have made a new law to extend the boundaries of Minute Man National Historical Park to include the homestead of Col. James Barrett. That 1705 farmhouse and the five acres around it are now owned by Save Our Heritage, a local preservation group. The next step will be an appraisal of the property’s market value, and then the federal government would need to authorize the actual purchase.

Barrett’s farm was the ultimate goal of the British march to Concord on 18-19 Apr 1775 because Gen. Thomas Gage had good intelligence that the colonel was storing cannons, mortars, gunpowder, and other ordnance there for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. But the provincials also had good intelligence, and Barrett, his family, and his militia men started moving and hiding that material before the troops arrived. Col. Barrett was also nominally in charge of the Middlesex County militia that massed above the North Bridge, though, because he was trying to monitor so many places while avoiding arrest, he couldn’t really exercise command.

Even though there was no shooting on Barrett’s property, it’s a crucial part of the Battle of Lexington and Concord—the reason there was a battle at all. It therefore makes sense to incorporate this land into the National Park Service site. And this cause is of special interest to Boston 1775 since some of my research helped to establish what was out there.

The same law also established the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area in forty-five communities in north-central Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as discussed back here.

(Photo by Dominic Chavez/Boston Globe Staff.)

2 comments:

RJO said...

That's wonderful news. Congratulations to all involved.

Is the Barrett property contiguous with existing Park property, or is there a gap in between? (I couldn't tell from the map on the Save Our Heritage site.)

J. L. Bell said...

I’m not sure about the geography myself. The authorized boundaries of the park include a fair amount of land that the federal government does not own and has no current intention of buying. So there might be different definitions of what the park’s boundaries are.