Minute Man National Historical Park

Minute Man National Historical Park

Minute Man National Historical Park in Massachusetts, USA commemorates the start of the American Revolution.

The American Revolution began as a protest against the treatment of the Americans as British subjects and turned into an eight year war for American independence.

Minute Man National Park includes the Battle Road Trail, the site of the first battle of the American Revolution which took place on 19 April 1775. Visitors can hike this trail or drive parts of it and a guided walk starts every day at 12:30pm from the Minute Man Visitor Centre. The next site along the way is Hartwell Tavern, a traditional pre-revolution homestead followed by The Wayside, the former home of Louisa May Alcott and other literary giants. You can only visit the Wayside with a guided tour.

Also found at Minute Man National Park is the North Bridge, the site of a famous battle commemorated in a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson as the location of the “shot heard round the world”. Rangers are on hand here to offer a twenty minute talk.

Minute Man National Park is named after the Minute Men, the volunteer American militia who fought for their country. Visitors can plan their itinerary by starting their day at the Minute Man Visitor Centre, which also includes an introduction to the war via a multimedia presentation. There is also a North Bridge Visitor Centre, which holds a brass cannon called The Hancock. Guided tours and ranger programs are also available as are audio guides.


The North Bridge is located in Concord and is part of the North Bridge Unit of Minute Man National Historical Park. It has its own parking lot on Monument Street (the bridge itself is a tenth of a mile away). Be sure to use the parking lot identified as Minute Man Historical Park, because just before it is a smaller one for Old Manse, a privately owned historical home within eye sight of the bridge. Expect a crowd during the summer, as the bridge is probably the most popular attraction in the park.

You can also park at the North Bridge Visitor Center at 174 Liberty Street and walk to the North Bridge along a .3-mile gravel path. The terrain is hilly, but the scenery is very pretty.

Path from the North Bridge to the North Bridge Visitor Center

Minute Man National Historical Park - History

This winter, my boyfriend and I decided to get out of being huddled in New York and to take a trip to Boston. We had been experiencing some terrible snow and ice and although the Boston area wasn’t much better (in fact, we never got into town because everything was snowed in), but we were able to take a short drive from Adam’s house to Minute Man National Historical Park.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a location I had heard so much about from the history books. This spot was where the beginning of the United States of America took place, and the only battlefields I had ever been on looked like battlefields—they were empty spaces in the middle of Montana where battles against Native Americans had taken place.

The park protects close to 1000 acres between the three towns of Lincoln, Lexington, and Concord. When you first enter the park, you cross a bridge. It was wonderful to be there in the winter. I was so surprised to find that a former battlefield could be made into something so scenic. I had a hey-day with my camera snapping photographs.

As a writer, one of the most interesting aspects of the visit was the poetry and writings that were posted on signs throughout the park. We were treated to writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott. Although we didn’t check out the visitor’s center, we did visit the house where many of these writers stayed overlooking the battleground.

The North Bridge was also a major highlight after hearing so much about it in poetry and song. Even though the air was a bit nippy, I was warm from walking around the park and enjoying the beautiful sights.

One of the best parts of the park is the fact that it is still in use by families and those looking to enjoy the outdoors. We saw cross country skiers and snowshoers and kids sledding down the sloping hills. It was a bit of a weird thought to think that children were building snowmen where real men had fallen, but it was also good to know that parents had taken their children to a park where such an important part of American history had taken place.

I love stepping back in time, and I’ve been many places where I felt like I have been a part of history. This was a special trip for me, however. History was not only a moment in the past that I had the opportunity to journey to, but I felt as though history had come to the present. I loved the Minute Man National Historical Park for that reason.

A Revolutionary Revelation at Minute Man National Historical Park

At a young age, every student in the United States learns about the first battles of the Revolutionary War — the battles of Lexington and Concord. The fighting began on April 19, 1775, on the Lexington Green, followed by Concord’s North Bridge and then along the Bay Road during the British retreat back to Boston. On that early morning in Lexington, only 77 militia men faced 700 British soldiers.

But what has been lost to history until recently is the lesser-known Battle of Parker’s Revenge and the heroic efforts of the Lexington militia under Captain John Parker after the battle on Lexington Green. The Lexington militia suffered over 20% casualties on the Lexington Green, yet Captain John Parker re-engaged the British again only hours later.

“Parker’s Revenge was an act of incredible historical courage — one that cried out to be researched, documented and retold to future generations.” – Bob Morris, board president of Friends of Minute Man National Park

Inspired by the story of Parker’s Revenge and recognizing there was a lack of primary historical research, the Friends of Minute Man National Park (FMMNP) organized and sponsored the Parker’s Revenge Archeological Project (PRAP) in partnership with Minute Man National Historical Park, the Northeast Region Archaeology Program of the NPS, the Lexington Minute Men, and other living history experts.

Major project supporters included the Town of Lexington via its Community Preservation Fund, Save our Heritage, the American Battlefield Trust, the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati, Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, Lexington Community Endowment and many other local supporters.

“It was a seamless partnership between our Friends group, the park, NPS regional archaeology experts and the community.” — Bob Morris

Friends of Minute Man National Park hired archeologist Dr. Meg Watters of Visual Environment Solutions, LLC. to utilize modern technologies such as ground penetrating radar, 3-D scanning, and metallic surveys to learn where and how the battle happened. She and her team, in collaboration with many experts and volunteers, discovered 29 musket balls left undisturbed for over 240 years after the battle. The militia musket balls were a different caliber than the British musket balls, making it possible to determine who stood where on the battlefield. This information even enabled the American Battlefield Trust to create a video of the archeological findings.

This discovery was instrumental in establishing the location of the battle, as well as the positioning of the Lexington militia and the British forces. Since revolutionary era muskets had definitive range, Dr. Watters and her team could interpret the near-exact location of individual soldiers on the battlefield. The archeological team also used a computerized viewshed simulation to determine that the Lexington militia was positioned on a hill in a location that made it difficult for the British to see them until they were almost adjacent.

“Captain Parker had picked a perfect spot at the edge of a woodlot on a hill it was difficult for the British to spot the militia.” – Bob Morris

The archaeological findings, in turn, helped an esteemed committee of military experts and scholars interpret the military tactics executed during the Battle of Parker’s Revenge. The archeological findings were released by NPS in an official report on November 14, 2016.

Though the site has been mapped and these important artifacts of national significance have been recovered, the Parker’s Revenge Project is far from complete. Minute Man National Historical Park and FMMNP are moving onto the second and third phases of the ambitious project, focusing on battlefield rehabilitation and an interpretive exhibit that will allow park-goers to connect with the heroic and long-forgotten story.

“The landscape vegetation has changed considerably in over 200 years. Trees now cover an area that was once largely open terrain. But as a result of the battlefield rehabilitation efforts, visitors can now walk on spur trails directly to both the British and Lexington militia positions.” — Bob Morris

Minute Man National Historical Park is executing land rehabilitation, in partnership with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation and other partners. Meanwhile, battlefield rehabilitation will focus on constructing interpretive trails and platforms, re-building historic stone walls, and removing invasive species, debris, and trees that impede historic sightlines to bring park visitors an authentic and historically accurate viewing of the battlefield. Minute Man National Historical Park interpretive staff are developing the interpretive exhibit and plan to share the archeological findings with the public in an accessible way to improve visitor understanding of the events of the Battle at Parker’s Revenge.

Friends of Minute Man National Park continues fundraising efforts to support the battlefield’s rehabilitation and the interpretive exhibit to ensure the story of Parker’s Revenge is given its rightful place in American history, and our hearts.

You can call and visit the park year-round to learn more about these re-discovered histories from our nation’s revolution.

Learn why our support of the annual Patriots’ Day activities are vital to the Park.

From the American Revolution to the Literary Revolution

The Minute Man National Historical Park comprises 1038 acres and runs through the towns of Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, MA.

The Park commemorates the opening battles of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775 and celebrates the American revolutionary spirit through the writings of the Concord authors.

The Friends of Minute Man National Park provides much needed support to help the Park preserve the significant historic sites, structures, landscapes, events, and ideas of the American Revolution.

The Minute Man statue, by Daniel Chester French, was dedicated in 1875.

Become a Member or Donate Today!

The Friends depends upon the support of our members and donors. Your donation makes a difference at Minute Man National Historical Park. Join us today!

Cancelled: “Stone Walls of Minute Man National Historical Park”

Sunday, March 29, 2020

We regretfully cancel our upcoming lecture as Professor Robert Thorson has been directed by the University of Connecticut to suspend all university-related travel out of state due to concerns over COVID-19. Professor Thorson will reschedule and we look forward to announcing the new date once it is finalized.

For more information, please contact us or email us at [email protected]

Winter Lecture Series: February


Minutemen or Minute Companies were a part of the militia of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The name minutemen comes from the idea that they would be ready to fight with a minute's notice. [1] The force was created in response to the Massachusetts militia's failure to respond to the Powder Alarm in September 1774. [2] Unlike the general militia, which was made up of all able-bodied white men between 16 and 60, the two companies of minutemen were made up young volunteers who were paid one shilling, eight pence for their time drilling three times a week. [3] [4] The other difference between the general militia and minutemen was how officers were appointed. In the general militia officers were appointed by the governor as a political favor officers of minutemen were elected by their peers. [3] By February 1775, Concord, Massachusetts had 104 minutemen in two companies. [3]

Battles of Lexington and Concord Edit

In 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress designated Concord as the stockpile for patriot cannons, gunpowder, and ammunition. [5] In response to the growing stockpile of arms, General Thomas Gage sent spies to Concord to survey the preparations. [6] Based on the reports from spies and instructions from Secretary of State for America William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, Gage ordered a preemptive strike on Concord. [7] At daybreak on April 19, 1775, six companies of grenadiers and light infantry under the command of major John Pitcairn met a group of 70 militiamen under the command of John Parker on the Lexington Common. [8] The militiamen were alerted to the British advance by Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott who traveled from Boston. It is unknown who fired the first shot of the Battle of Lexington, but after less than 30 minutes of fighting, eight militiamen were killed and nine were wounded. [9] After dispersing the patriots, Pitcairn moved his troops on to Concord.

Based on alerts from Prescott and reports from Lexington, 150 minutemen from Concord and Lincoln mustered on the Concord Common under the command of James Barrett. [10] After meeting the advancing British troops, the minutemen retreated to higher ground without firing a shot. [11] Since the British troops had control of the town, they proceed to search for and destroy the stockpiled supplies. [12] The cannon, musket balls, and flour were all rendered unusable, but the gunpowder was removed before it could be seized. [13] While the British were searching the town, the minutemen moved to the Old North Bridge and were reinforced by militiamen from other towns. [14] At the bridge, 400 minutemen and militiamen repelled the British advance and forced them to retreat. [15] Many of the minutemen who participated in the Battle of Concord went home after the British retreated from the bridge. [16] But, minutemen from other towns skirmished with the British troops during their march back to Boston. [17]

1836 Battle monument Edit

In 1825, the Bunker Hill Monument Association donated $500 (equivalent to $11,299 in 2019) to Concord to build a monument to the Battle of Concord. [18] The original plan was to place the monument "near the town pump" in Concord. [19] Due to disagreements within the town, nothing was done with the money until Ezra Ripley donated land for the monument near the Old North Bridge in 1835. After the donation, the town had Solomon Willard design a simple 25-foot-tall (7.6-meter) granite obelisk to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Concord. [19] The "Concord Hymn" was written by transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson for the dedication of the monument in 1836. [20] At the ceremony, it was sung to the tune of "Old Hundred". [21]

To the dislike of Emerson, the obelisk stands on the bank of the river where the British stood during battle. [22] The Minute Man was created for the centennial celebration of the battle in 1875. Unlike the earlier monument, it was to be placed on the bank where the Massachusetts militia stood. [22]

The monument committee for The Minute Man – which consisted of George M. Brooks, John B. More, John S. Keyes, and Emerson − only considered Daniel Chester French because he was from Concord and his father, Henry F. French, was a prominent local lawyer and former judge. [23] The statue was French's first full-size work previously French had produced a bust of his father and one additional statue. [24] In 1871, a year before he was formally commissioned, the committee chairman asked French to start working on the statue. [23] Throughout the year, French sketched possible poses for the statue. That summer, French created a small clay "related figure" that was rejected by the committee. [23] [25] It is unknown what that statue looked like and it was not saved. [25]

French researched The Minute Man by studying powder horns and buttons from the era. [26] According to Harold Holzer because French was a handsome man, "there would be a line of young women outside his studio ready to show him their alleged Colonial artifacts" to help him with his research. [24] In 1873, his second clay model of the statue was accepted by the statue committee. [27] The same year the medium of the statue was changed from stone to bronze. [25] The miniature version of the statue won a local art competition in September 1873, but the pose of the figure was deemed "awkwardly stiff" by critics. [28] The pose of The Minute Man was made more natural in the enlargement process by working with models. By September 1874, the statue was completed and a plaster version of the clay statue was sent to Ames Manufacturing Works in Chicopee, Massachusetts. [29] Because the town did not have the money to cast the statue in bronze, through a bill introduced by Ebenezer R. Hoar, the United States Congress appropriated ten Civil War-era cannons [note 2] to the project. [30] [31] The statue was cast with the metal from guns. [25]

The statue was unveiled on April 19, 1875 during the centennial celebration of the Battle of Concord, in a ceremony attended by Ulysses S. Grant and Ralph Waldo Emerson. [32] [33] French, however, left for Italy to further study sculpture in 1874 and was not in attendance. Holzer suggests that French avoided the celebration "in case the statue was panned" by contemporary critics. [34] French's fears were unfounded and the statue was positively received by art critics and the public. [34]

The Concord Minute Man of 1775 Edit

French was commissioned by the town of Concord in 1889 to rework The Minute Man for the Yorktown-class gunboat USS Concord. [25] The new statue, paid for by the United States Congress, was titled The Concord Minute Man of 1775. [note 3] The reworked statue cleaned up some imperfections in the face of the original statue and incorporated elements of Beaux-Arts. [25] French made the movement of the new statue more fluid and natural. [35] It was completed in 1890 and installed on the gunboat in 1891. [25] A copy of the statue was also carried by the Omaha-class cruiser USS Concord in the 1940s. [36]

Statue Edit

The statue is 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall and depicts a minuteman at the Battle of Concord. The farmer-turned-soldier is shown trading his plow for a flintlock long gun [note 4] and stepping away from his private life toward the impending battle. [25] The sleeves of his coat and shirt are rolled up the minuteman's overcoat is draped over the plow. [37] A powder horn, mistakenly, sits on the man's back instead of on his hip where it can be used. [37] His face is alert while his eyes are transfixed on the battle that he is ready to march into. [38]

The pose of the soldier has been compared to the pose of the Apollo Belvedere. [39] Nineteenth and twentieth-century art critics, such as Lorado Taft and H. C. Howard, have suggested that the pose was directly copied from the Roman sculpture. [39] [40] Howard in particular trivializes the sculpture as "little more than an Americanized rendition of the Apollo Belvedere". [40] Modern scholarship, working with French's journals, disagrees that the pose is a copy while acknowledging that French used a variety of plaster casts of classical sculptures, including the Apollo Belvedere, as inspiration when creating The Minute Man. [41]

Pedestal Edit

The Minute Man was intended to be placed on a local boulder by the town of Concord. [42] At the instance of French and his father, the town allowed for the design of a stone pedestal. Several architects submitted designs to the town, including French's brother, but the competition was won by James Elliot Cabot. [42] [43] The resulting design is a simple granite pedestal that is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) tall and 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) wide with inscriptions in two sides. [44] On the front, it is inscribed with the first stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn". [45] Cabot's design is nearly identical to French's final pedestal design. Throughout the creation of The Minute Man, French sketched and built a variety of potential pedestals. [46]

Beneath the pedestal is a copper time capsule from 1875 that contains items from past celebrations of the battle, maps, and photographs of both the sculpture and sculptor. [42] In 1975, a second time capsule was placed beneath the pedestal that included Girl Scouts USA pins, the United States Bicentennial's flag, and a cassette tape. [44]

The Minute Man is highly regarded by art historians and critics. Rudyard Kipling came "very near to choking" when he saw the statue and battlefield during his tour of the United States. [47] Anna Seaton-Schmidt referred to it as "the most inspiring of our soldier monuments" in her 1922 biography of French in The American Magazine of Art. [48] The Boston National Historic Sites Commission claimed the statue "perfectly personifies the American Patriot" in their 1959 interim report. [20] Michael Richman, the 1971–1972 Samuel H. Kress Fellow, calls it a "masterwork in nineteenth-century American sculpture". [39] Chris Bergeron from The MetroWest Daily News describes The Minute Man as "naturalistic detail imbued with an idealistic effect". [38] Harold Holzer describes the statue as representative of French's style of "naturalism, a great feeling of humanity, and connection to the subject". [24]

Louisa May Alcott, writing for Woman's Journal, commented on the lack of place for women in its unveiling ceremony. [49] Alcott and other suffragettes appropriated the statue as a symbol of their struggle for voting rights, and the suffragettes made pilgrimages to the statue in the 1880s. [50]

Government usage Edit

The Minute Man was widely used by the US government to evoke the idea of the citizen-soldier, commemorate the Battle of Concord, and as a symbol for Massachusetts. The statue appears on the seal of the United States National Guard and the Air National Guard, and is a symbol of both organizations. [51] [52] In 1925, the United States Post Office Department released a five-cent stamp depicting the statue and verses from "Concord Hymn". [53] The United States Treasury has used the statue on both war bonds and savings bonds. [54] The Minute Man has been depicted on United States coins twice. It appears on the obverse of the Lexington–Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar which was minted in 1925. [55] The statue also appears on the reverse of the 2000 Massachusetts state quarter next to an outline of the state. [56]


This National Historic Site consists of three facilities: a visitor center and two significant Cold War-era sites, a launch control center and a missile silo/launch facility, formerly operated by the 66th Strategic Missile Squadron of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing, headquartered at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder, near Rapid City. The facilities represent the only remaining intact components of a nuclear missile field that once consisted of 150 Minuteman II missiles, 15 launch-control centers, and covered over 13,500 square miles (34,964.8 km 2 ) of southwestern South Dakota. [4]

The silo, known as launch facility Delta Nine (D-09) was constructed in 1963. It occupies 1.6 acres (6,000 m 2 ) nearly one-half mile (800 m) southwest of Interstate 90 at Exit 116 and six miles (10 km) from the town of Wall, South Dakota, in eastern Pennington County. It consists of an underground launch tube ("missile silo") 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter and 80 feet (24.4 m) deep, made of reinforced concrete with a steel-plate liner. An unarmed missile is on display inside. The launch tube's 90-ton cover has been rolled partly away and welded to the rails it rides on. The launch tube was then covered with a glass viewing enclosure. Not only does this permit visitors to see the missile, it means Russian satellites are able to verify that the site is not operational, and hence in compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Because the only way to get to the underground part of the site is by a ladder 30 feet (9.1 m) long, tours are not conducted underground for safety reasons. Visitors can conduct self-guided tours of the site during the day by calling a number on their cell phones and walking around the site, listening to the description of various points over the phone.

The launch control facility, known as Delta One (D-01), is about 10.5 miles (16.9 km) away, to the east-southeast in northwestern Jackson County. It occupies approximately six acres (24,000 m 2 ) about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) north of I-90 at Exit 127. It consists of an above-ground building containing a kitchen, sleeping quarters, offices and life-support equipment. Below this building is the actual launch control center, buried 31 feet (9.4 m) deep, connected to the building by an elevator. Guided tours are conducted underground here, but are limited to six people at a time due to the very small underground launch control center ("capsule") and are a half-hour long. Self-guided tours are not possible here the gate for the fence around D-01 is always locked, just like it was when it was an active launch control facility.

The complex, one of six located in the central United States, was built as a deterrent to a nuclear first strike by the Soviet Union. By placing missiles underground in widely separated locations, it was hoped that regardless of the size of a Soviet missile attack, enough US missiles would survive to ensure devastation on the aggressor nation. The Minutemen in this complex remained on alert for nearly 30 years until the wing was deactivated following the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Under the terms of the treaty, the missiles in this complex were removed from their silos, and in 1994 the 44th Missile Wing was deactivated. All sites in the complex, except D-01 and D-09, have been destroyed. [4]

D-01 and D-09 were candidates for becoming a national historic site for a few reasons:

  • close to a major road (Interstate 90)
  • close to existing recreational facilities (Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore)
  • the sites saw limited modification since they were built in the 1960s (true of all sites in the 44 SMW).

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act (S. 459 113th Congress) added about 29 acres of land to the park in 2013, tripling its size to include a visitor facility. Most of it was transferred from the adjacent Buffalo Gap National Grassland [5]

Minute Man National Historical Park - History

The Jacob Whittemore House was built sometime between 1716 and 1722 by Jacob Whittemore’s father. It is one of eleven houses within Minute Man National Historical Park that existed when the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place on April 19, 1775. The National Park Service calls it a “witness house,” but other than being old and standing on the grounds of the battlefield, there is nothing special about it—no famous people lived here and no historic events took place inside.

The house is located in the Battle Road Unit of the park, just a tenth-of-a-mile walk from the Minute Man Visitor Center. The wide, gravel path that leads from the parking lot to the Visitor Center continues on to Marrett Street, and the Whittemore House is on the other side of the road. There is no parking at the house, so you can only get to it by walking from the Visitor Center or by hiking or biking the Battle Road Trail.

The Whittemore House is open to the public on a limited basis from mid-June through late August when staffing allows. Get the current schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Minute Man National Historical Park.

Inside the Jacob Whittemore House

The Whittemore House is not decorated with period furniture, though there is some modern furniture inside for use as display tables for educational activities, most of which are geared for children. Information panels give the history of the house and the Whittemore Family, and Rangers and volunteers dressed in period costume are on hand to answer questions. Rangers also give lectures a few times each day about what life was like for citizens living along Battle Road when the fighting broke out.

For those interested in architecture, the ceiling beams and some in the wall have been left exposed, allowing you to see how the early houses were constructed.

Minute Man National Historical Park - History

The Hartwell Tavern is located at the center of the Battle Road Unit of Minute Man National Historical Park. It is one of eleven houses within the park that existed when the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place on April 19, 1775. The National Park Service calls it a “witness house,” so other than being old and standing on the grounds of the battlefield, there is nothing special about it—no famous people lived here and no historic events took place inside.

The tavern sits right along what is today called Battle Road. In fact, this is an original segment of the road that once ran between Cambridge and Concord (it was called Bay Road or Concord Road, among other names). The tavern can be reached by anyone hiking or biking the Battle Road Trail, and for those coming by vehicle, there is a parking lot on Route 2A. It is a .2-mile walk between the parking lot and the tavern along a gravel path. A modern restroom facility is located at the start of the path near the parking lot, and a small picnic area can be found in a field at the midway point.

Hartwell Tavern Parking (click to enlarge)

The Hartwell Tavern is typically open to the public on select days of the week from mid-June through October 31st. G uests are welcome to come inside to see the furnished lower level. None of the furnishings are original to the house, but they are reproductions typical of the time period. Costumed Rangers and park volunteers are inside to answer any questions. The tavern is also the meeting place for the popular The Minute Men: Neighbors in Arms and Bloody Angle Battle Road Walk Ranger programs. To get the current schedule for the Hartwell Tavern, visit the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Minute Man National Historical Park.

Costumed Rangers at Hartwell Tavern

Room in the Hartwell Tavern

Bedroom in the Hartwell Tavern

Room in the Hartwell Tavern

The Hartwell Tavern was the home of Ephraim Hartwell, his wife, and their nine children (three fought at the North Bridge and in the ensuing skirmishes). The house was built between 1732 and 1733 as a wedding present from Ephriam’s father. Because it was situated right along the main road and accessible to many potential customers, the Hartwells decided to open a tavern to supplement their income as farmers. The business operated from 1756 until the 1780s in the main house. The addition on the left side wasn’t added until 1783, and the backside addition was added in 1830.

Main Hartwell House and additions

According to legend, Hartwell Tavern may have played a small part in the events of April 19th. Paul Revere and William Dawes rode out of Boston on the night of April 18 th to warn fellow Patriots along the Bay Road that British soldiers were marching to Concord to confiscate a cache of weapons. On the way they met Samuel Prescott, a fellow Patriot who joined them on their ride west (he lived in Concord and was heading that way). About a mile to the east of the tavern, the men ran into a patrol of British soldiers. Revere ended up being captured, and Dawes fell off of and subsequently lost his horse while trying to escape, but Prescott managed to get away, using his knowledge of the area to continue off-road towards Concord.

One version of the story has Prescott rejoining Bay Road at Hartwell Tavern and rousing Ephraim and his son John. Ephraim, who was too old to fight himself, sent a female slave down the road to Captain William Smith’s house to alert him that the British troops were on their way (Smith was the commander of the Lincoln Minute Men). The woman first stopped at the house next door, the home of Ephraim’s son Samuel, who was a sergeant in the Lincoln Minute Men. While he got ready, his wife Mary ran down the road to wake Captain Smith (Samuel’s house lies in ruins between Hartwell Tavern and the Smith House).

Another account has Prescott arriving at Samuel’s house to begin with, and when his female slave was too terrified to run down the road to Captain Smith’s, Mary took it upon herself to do so. The only problem with this story is that there is no record of Samuel Hartwell owning a slave. Anyway, the stories are different takes on the same event, and both end with the same results.

Rear view of the main Hartwell Tavern house

There is also a barn on the property, but this is not open to the public and has nothing to do with the American Revolution—it was built in 1939.

The Hartwell Tavern remained a private residence all the way up until it was purchased by the National Park Service in 1967 for inclusion in Minute Man National Historical Park. It had been modernized over the years, so the main house was restored to its 1775 appearance. The two additions were kept despite their not being part of house’s American Revolution history.