Tag Archives: Washington

Munroe Tavern (1695)

Munroe Tavern

Munroe Tavern, located one mile east of Lexington Common, was built around 1695. The Tavern is named for William Munroe, who was its proprietor from 1770 to 1827. Munroe was also an orderly sergeant in Captain Parker’s minuteman company in 1775. During the Battle of Lexington, on April 19, 1775, the Tavern was occupied by the British for an hour-and-a-half. The Tavern‘s dining room became a field hospital and Brigadier General Earl Percy, who arrived with British reinforcements, used it as his headquarters. George Washington dined at the Tavern during his 1789 visit to the Lexington battlefield. The Tavern is now a museum operated by the Lexington Historical Society.

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King’s Chapel, Boston (1749)

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King’s Chapel, originally founded to serve British officers, was the first Anglican church in Puritan Boston. The Chapel‘s first building was a wood structure, built in 1686 on land that had been part of the town’s oldest burying ground. The current Chapel, built of Quincy granite, was constructed around the old one in 1749-1754 (the dismantled remains of the old church were then removed through the windows). The architect was Peter Harrison, of Newport, RI, considered to be America’s “first architect,” who modeled the Georgian-style building on those designed by James Gibbs in England, like St. Martin in the Fields in London, except the steeple of King’s Chapel was never built due to a lack of funds. When the British evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War, there were few Anglican families remaining in town. James Freeman, a lay reader, became minister in 1783 and led Stone Chapel (as King’s Chapel had come to be called) to become America’s first Unitarian church in 1789 (although the congregation continued to follow a liturgy based on the Book of Common Prayer). That same year, George Washington attended an oratorio at the Chapel intended to raise funds for the construction of a portico of wood Ionic columns, painted to resemble stone. When the Chapel’s bell cracked in 1814, it was recast by Paul Revere. Both the Chapel and the adjacent King’s Chapel Burying Ground are on the Boston Freedom Trail.

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The Old State House (1713)

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Since the 1630s, what would become the site of the Old State House in Boston was where the Puritans’ stocks and whipping posts were located and where the town’s earliest market was held. A wood Town House was built there in 1657, which had an open air market on the ground floor and a meeting place above. After this structure burned down in 1711, a new brick one was built in 1713, although the interior was gutted by fire in 1747 and had to be restored afterwards. This historic structure at the head of State Street, which became the seat of British Royal government in Massachusetts, was the site of many significant events: James Otisspeech against the writs of assistance in 1761; the March 5, 1770 Boston Massacre, which occurred just in front of the building; the first reading for Bostonians of the Declaration of Independence by Col. Thomas Crafts from the east balcony on July 18, 1776 (at which time the people torn down from the building the original royal lion and unicorn to be consigned to a bonfire); and the 1789 visit of President George Washington. After the Revolutionary War, it continued to serve as the State House until 1798, when it was given to the town in exchange for a new State House site on Beacon Hill. In 1830, it was altered by architect Isaiah Rogers in the Classical Revival style to serve as a City Hall until 1841. After that, it began a long decline. Housing offices and shops, the exterior was covered with advertisements. There were thoughts of demolishing it to widen the street and Chicagoans even offered to move it to Illinois! In 1882, it was eventually restored (with replicas of the old lion and unicorn) and rededicated as a museum, run by the Bostonian Society. A more recent restoration was completed by Goody, Clancy & Associates in 1991. The building is part of the Boston Freedom Trail. See below for more pictures of the Old State House:

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The Benjamin Wadsworth House (1726)

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In 1726, a house was constructed on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, on the site where Harvard’s earliest building, the Peyntree House, had stood. It was first occupied by Harvard’s fourth president, Benjamin Wadsworth, his family and two slaves. After Wadsworth, it would serve as the home of eight other presidents, until 1849, when president Jared Sparks chose to reside in his own Cambridge home. During the Revolutionary War, the house was Washington’s first headquarters when he came to command the army during the siege of Boston in 1775. Do to its state of disrepair at the time, Washington soon moved to other quarters. Over the years, the house would serve as lodging for visiting ministers and student boarders (including Ralph Waldo Emerson). The building now houses the Office of the University Marshal and other offices. The Wadsworth House lost its front yard when Massachusetts Avenue was widened. Today it is the second oldest of Harvard’s surviving buildings, after Massachusetts Hall.

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The Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House (1759)

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The Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House has important associations with both the Revolutionary War and nineteenth century American literature. This impressive Georgian-style mansion was built in 1759 by Maj. John Vassall on what is now Brattle Street in Cambridge. The area was known as Tory Row because of the many houses built there by loyalists, like Vassall. When anti-Tory sentiment rose during the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1774, Vassall and his wife, who was the sister of the royal lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, fled to Boston and eventually left for England. The abandoned house was occupied by the Marblehead Regiment in 1775 and then became the headquarters of General George Washington from July 1775 to April 1776 (during the Siege of Boston).

After the war, the house came into the possession of Andrew Craigie, who had been the Continental Army’s first Apothecary General. He added porches to the sides of the house and an extension on the back. When he died, in 1819, he left his wife, Elizabeth in debt. Over the next two decades, she would take in boarders to make ends meet, including many Harvard students. In 1837, one of her boarders was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then a professor of modern languages at Harvard. In 1843, when Longfellow married Fanny Appleton, her father, the wealthy industrialist Nathan Appleton, acquired the house to give the newlyweds as a wedding gift. Longfellow would live there until his death in 1882, passing the property on to his children. His daughter, Alice Longfellow, later commissioned a new garden in the Colonial Revival style.

In 1913, his surviving children established the Longfellow House Trust to preserve the house as a monument to their father and George Washington, as well as to Georgian architecture. In 1962, the house became a National Historic Landmark and the Trust donated it to the National Park Service and it is today open to the public as the Longfellow National Historic Site.

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