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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Monday, April 27, 2015

Forum about Concord’s Wright Tavern, 18 May

Last month Dr. Melvin Bernstein, organizer of this area’s American Revolution Round Table, published an essay in the Concord Journal about one of the town’s lesser-known historic sites:
No historic building in Concord is more important to the American Revolution than the Wright Tavern. Yet the story of the Wright Tavern is little told, under-appreciated, and largely taken for granted. Although the building is designated a National Historic Landmark, there are no visitor hours posted, no contact person, no information guides you would commonly find at major historic sites.

What makes the Wright Tavern special are two pivotal revolutionary events that took place there in 1774 and 1775. First, the new Provincial Congress of Massachusetts convened in Concord on Oct. 11, 1774 in defiance of the Crown’s authority. 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. The full assembly of the Congress, amounting to nearly 300 representatives, debated the resolutions next door at the town Meeting House.

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.

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 next meeting of the Round Table will be a forum on “The Future of Concord’s Wright Tavern.” It will feature a panel discussion with some of the town’s leading historical voices:
  • Jayne Gordon, whose long career in public history has ranged from being a teen-aged guide at the Orchard House to directing educational programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  • Robert Gross, author of The Minutemen and Their World and Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut.
  • Leslie Wilson, Munroe Curator of Special Collections at the Concord Free Public Library, to be represented through a written statement since she will be traveling.
The meeting will be held on Monday, 18 May, at the main visitor center of Minute Man National Historical Park, reached off Route 2A in Lincoln, starting at 7:00 P.M. Email Mel Bernstein to reserve a place.

1 comment:

Charles Bahne said...

I was a bit surprised to learn that the Wright Tavern is owned by Concord's First Parish (Unitarian). About 25 years ago — and apparently for many years before that — the first floor was a gift shop operated by the town's Trinitarian Congregational (or "Tri-Con") church. It certainly makes sense for the tavern to be owned by the Unitarian parish, since it's right next door; but it's intriguing that they would rent out the building to a different congregation, even if it was for business purposes.

When the Tri-Con Gift Shop was there, the building was open to the public, and pamphlets about its history were available. Since then, it's been occupied by law firms and insurance agencies. I'm sure that they provide revenue to the First Parish, but they do nothing to increase public awareness of the tavern's rich history.