The book shown above is a ledger/account book covering the period from 1871-1886. We discovered it in our collection in the spring of 2018. We were surprised to realize that the ledger has come quite a long way! It contains the business (and sometimes personal) accounts of Thomas and John Long of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Though this is certainly a valuable piece of history, we investigated further and found no evidence of a connection to Lexington. Our mission at the Historical Society is to be a premier interpreter of the events of April 1775, and the faithful steward of all of the town's history through time. Given that this ledger did not help fulfill that mission, we decided to remove it from our collection and try to find a place for it that would be more suitable.
Therefore, the ledger was deaccessioned (more on what that means) this spring per a recommendation by staff and a vote by the Society's collections committee. We then contacted the Prince Edward Island Provincial Archives in Charlottetown to attempt to find a better home for the Long’s records.
Success! They were interested in the ledger. They agreed to take a look at it, though were clear that reviewing it did not mean it would definitely be accepted into their collections. This is a common practice with us and many other museums as well. Sometimes, objects or books or photos or documents offered to an organization may not be in as good condition as we might like, or may have a copyright issue, or there may be another reason to reconsider accepting the donation.
Once we got the go-ahead to bring the ledger to the Provincial Archives for review, the next step was to get it there. Luckily, we were well prepared for that! I have family and a summer cottage on Prince Edward Island and visit every year. The path being clear, I made preparations to bring the ledger with me in July 2019. It traveled in the trunk of my car, housed in an archival folder and a wooden case to protect it from damage. The case may not have been strictly necessary, but with my two children and two dogs in the car as well, it gave me much-appreciated peace of mind.
I delivered the ledger to the Provincial Archives in late July. Historically housed in Province House, a renovation of that historic site moved both the archives and the Offices of the Government next door in 2015. I signed in, got my security badge, and headed up to the fourth floor with the ledger in its case. Once in the reading room of the archives, I had a nice conversation with one of the archivists about the ledger and also generic museums & archives chit chat. The Provincial Archives staff will consider the ledger at some point soon and let us know if and when they accept it. Payload delivered, I headed back outside to the summer heat, pleased that the plan came together and the Longs were back in Charlottetown!
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Anyone who is familiar with those who work in the museum world knows that we just cannot stop learning. In our spare time, we find ourselves attending lectures and symposiums, watching documentaries, and reading the newest, weightiest volumes that we can find on a variety of historical topics and civics issues. The fact that we love to continue learning and discovering new theories, methods, and points of view on a variety of topics also goes hand-in-hand with our professions.
All staff members regularly attend relevant annual conferences and meetings that pertain directly to our individual positions, but we also strive to do even more. We’ve written in the past about some of the ways we do this, but wanted to share an update and a new endeavor in which I am engaged!
Executive Director Erica recently completed a certificate program in nonprofit management and leadership at Boston University. Collections and Outreach Manager Stacey regularly attends workshops on collections care, exhibit best practices, and marketing, including two this past June on the latter topics, presented by the New England Museum Association (NEMA). Programs Manager Sarah attended a panel discussion at Old South Meeting House in February on interpreting slavery at museums, so as to better implement the history of slavery in our interpretation and programming. Education and Interpretation Manager Chris recently took part in a NEMA workshop on “Finding Your Way Through Interpretive Planning.”
And so, with the Society’s support, I recently embarked upon a new pursuit: obtaining an archival Arrangement and Description Certificate through the Society of American Archivists (SAA). SAA is the oldest and largest professional archival association in North America, and thus this is a very credible and reputable program dedicated to the successful teaching of archival best practices. This program requires that I complete eight courses within four tiers of study inside three years, and the courses can be offered periodically in locations across the country. In May, I attended an archival “bootcamp” which took place at University of South Carolina in Columbia and where I completed the three required courses within a four day period.
The courses that I completed were excellent – they were taught by engaging and qualified professionals who tailored the coursework to the needs of the attendees. The attendees themselves varied from an archivist at Linfield College working with the Oregon Wine History Archive, to an archivist from California working with Pixar, to a variety of university and museum archivists. It’s always interesting and informative to learn about what similar and different issues other archivists within the profession face daily. Building these networked relationships and connections with other professionals is incredibly beneficial.
The courses I attended were:
And with that, I’m nearly halfway to completing this program! The remaining five courses are electives, so this will be an excellent chance to choose courses that pertain most to our needs at the Society – especially as our needs grow, change, and professionalize with the opening of our new Archives and Research Center in the fall! I’m very excited to continue pursuing this certificate and to make sure that I am staying current with archival best practice. After all, I love to learn!
-Elizabeth Mubarek, Archives Manager
Visitors come from near and far to visit Lexington and walk in the footsteps of the militiamen and patriots who brought Lexington to the world’s attention in April of 1775. For some time now, Lexington Historical Society has used volunteers through our historic house greeter program to welcome visitors to two of our three historic house museums open to public: the Hancock-Clarke House (36 Hancock Street) and Munroe Tavern (1332 Massachusetts Avenue). Simply put, greeters welcome visitors to the houses, take and sell admission tickets, and orient visitors with the tour-style of that particular house museum. However, this does not fully convey the importance of these volunteers.
For a number of visitors to Lexington, a greeter is the first representative of Lexington Historical Society they will interact with. Being volunteers, greeters have chosen to be there, and visitors can tell that they are genuinely excited to share their significant local history with others. While we wish that every visitor to Lexington had the time to tour one or more of the historic houses, even if they don’t, greeters are still providing way-finding information and local restaurant recommendations, adding to that visitor’s experience of Lexington as a whole. So, for these visitors, greeters are not only the face of the historical society, but also of the community.
Given that the houses are open seven days a week for five months out of the year, it is a significant task to keep the welcome desks staffed. At any given time, the greeter program has 50-60 current volunteers. Starting in April, greeters begin welcoming visitors to the houses on the weekends, and after Memorial Day the greeters fill over 100 shifts each month, June through October. As of July 15, 2019 greeters have volunteered for over 550 hours since April, and we are not even half-way through the season!
Part of what makes this program so successful is how different styles of volunteering come together to build a strong, yet flexible, volunteer program. At the core, there are a handful of greeters who have made the commitment to fill the same shift (or two) each week for most weeks of the season. Others seek to volunteer at least once a week but have a more variable schedule that adapts to our needs from month-to-month. Finally, some greeters may find their availability better lends to volunteering twice a month, filling in where they see the greatest need. The volunteers themselves are equally diverse. They include high school and college students, working professionals, parents and grandparents, and retirees. They are lifelong Lexingtonians, 50+ year residents, new arrivals, and exchange students here for just a year. What they share though is a passion for Lexington’s history and a desire to welcome all those visitors who open the door to the Hancock-Clarke House or Munroe Tavern seeking to experience that history for themselves.
Are you interested in learning how to become a historic house greeter? Contact Melissa Drake at email@example.com.
-Melissa Drake, Weekend Manager
Long before the events of April 19, 1775, Massachusetts was already fighting the British government. As taxation soared following the end of the French and Indian War, early Patriots organized boycotts and protests against the Crown. Not everyone had an equal opportunity for voicing their concerns, however. While elite men could involve themselves in government, and men and women of the lower classes could take to the streets in protest, middle and upper-class women were forced by society to think of their reputations and remain silent. Apparently, women who set fire to the stamp-collector’s house just weren’t considered prime marriage material! However, this doesn’t mean that these women were not actively involved in politics in their own way.
At Buckman Tavern, I am often struck by the way gendered spaces in the building are arranged – we believe that the small parlor next to the kitchen at the back of the house was used as a ladies’ parlor, and it sits directly behind the West Room, a frequent spot for clandestine Patriot meetings. There is no closeable door between these two rooms, allowing the inhabitants of the back parlor to eavesdrop on conversations in the front. I like to think that that the women of Lexington hatched most of their patriotic plans in this room, including the Lexington Spinning Bee, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year.
Fashion in the 18th century was serious business for both men and women. Your status in society was displayed by your clothing: how in style it was, and what materials it was made of. Fashion also benefited the British economy, as dressmaking fabric was made in England and then imported. Therefore, a fabric boycott was an obvious choice for the Patriot cause, and women, long stereotyped as textile producers, were able to step up to organize and implement these boycotts.
In urban towns like Lexington, most women had only a basic knowledge of textile production. Many were taught to spin, but most houses were producing only coarse, basic linen fabric that could be used around the house for utilitarian purposes. This all changed during boycott years. Sales for spinning wheels skyrocketed as women rushed to be seen creating homespun fabric for the Patriot cause. Ads in newspapers and protest songs proclaimed that local women were refusing marriage proposals from anyone not following the boycott, and tying up their hair with twine instead of silk ribbon.
This culminated in Lexington on August 31, 1769, when forty-five women congregated with their spinning wheels at the home of Daniel Harrington, facing the town common (the house, torn down after the Bicentennial, is now the empty lot on Harrington Street). Over the course of the day, from sunup to sundown, they spun 602 “knots” of 40 yards each of linen and 546 knots of cotton, almost enough thread to cover a marathon route. The thread produced at these spinning matches was often lumpy and unusable, but, as it was ceremoniously presented to Anna Harrington at the end of the day, the crowd would have been proud that they had not only created something that could further the Patriot cause, but that they had been able to hold a public protest nearly fifty people strong under the guise of “genteel women’s work”. Anyone from that point forward seen wearing homespun would automatically be recognized as a true Patriot.
250 years to the day, the Historical Society is recreating this event in its original location. Both historical reenactors and modern spinners alike will be gathering at the Harrington property to demonstrate their craft and talk about the politics of the original protest. Visitors will be able to get a sense of the whole process of creating clothing from start to finish in the 18th century, from combing freshly shorn wool and flax, to spinning, weaving, cutting, and sewing.
We will also be kicking off this event earlier in the month with a special lecture, “I Am An Honest Woman: Female Revolutionary Resistance” by Dr. Emily Murphy of the National Park Service. Join us on August 8th at 7:00 PM at the Depot to find out just how revolutionary these protests were before you see it live for yourself. Space is limited for lectures and reservations are required; email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat. Be sure to keep an eye on our events page over the summer for more information!
-Sarah McDonough, Programs Manager
Our Board of Directors recently voted to join the #opentoall initiative through LexPride. According to their website, “Open To All is a nationwide campaign to build awareness about the importance of nondiscrimination laws—and to defend the principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open To All.” This past spring, we posted our Open to All decals signifying that we do not discriminate and that our buildings are open to all. I am proud that our organization is participating in this program.
Part of our mission at Lexington Historical Society is to “document, preserve, interpret, and present to the public the history of Lexington as a whole.” This means telling the stories all kinds of people who have called Lexington home. I could not help but notice, especially as we hung our #opentoall decals, that our museums and programs do not tell the stories of the many LGBTQ+ people in Lexington today and throughout history. While it might be difficult to learn about LGBTQ+ people in the past, as the written record may not reflect their experiences, I thought that it is certainly possible to learn more about LGBTQ+ people in Lexington’s recent past and to better capture their stories for posterity.
With that in mind, I reached out to Val Overton of LexPride and asked if they might want to partner on a program that features LGBTQ history. Val was on board, and we formed a focus group to put a program together in time for Pride Month.
After a great meeting and dozens of emails, our program, in partnership with LexPride and Greater Boston PFLAG, is happening! Tonight, Thursday, June 20, we will host Dr. Gary Bailey of Simmons College who will discuss the last half century of LGBTQ history since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Following the lecture, there will be a panel discussion featuring LGBTQ Lexingtonians who will share their stories of coming of age in Lexington over the last fifty years.
This is an exciting moment for Lexington Historical Society, as we are exploring a new side of history, one that is not often told. However, we still have a long way to go. Like the fight for equal rights for those who identify as LGBTQ+, our inclusion of their stories in our interpretation and programming is still developing and hopefully improving.
I look forward to our continued partnership with LexPride and PFLAG, and anticipate more insightful programs in the future. We at Lexington Historical Society are continuously working to tell the stories of all of Lexington’s people, and I am proud that we are taking this important step.
The program will take place at the Depot, 13 Depot Square, at 7PM. It is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. For more information please visit www.lexingtonhistory.org/events.
-Erica McAvoy, Executive Director
Tattoos have a long history in world culture. We don't have a lot of imagery of people showing tattoos in the Historical Society’s photograph collection, however, as they were not widely acceptable in the United States in the 20th century. However, tattoos have become quite common for people aged 40 and under. Our collections manager (me!) has a number of them - some inspired obliquely by museum objects and one that I will show you today that was inspired directly by an item in our collection.
The item shown on the left above is the Reuben Locke powder horn. Reuben Locke fought in the Battle of Lexington. He continued his service in the Revolutionary War as a foot soldier and privateer, was taken prisoner in 1777, and imprisoned in Portsmouth, England. Locke’s experience is one of many amazing stories lived by Lexington’s Revolutionary War veterans.
Of particular note is the carving on Locke’s horn. It's conceivable that the carvings were done while he was imprisoned in Portsmouth England, as a way to pass the time. We don't know the specific inspiration for Reuben’s carvings, but there are daisy wheels and circles and hearts often seen in English folk imagery (more about daisy wheels, or hexafoils). Happily, Locke's story ends well. He survived the war, returned home to Lexington, married his pre-war fiancee Jerusha, had 8 children, and served as a tax collector. He died in 1823.
We featured Locke's powder horn in a exhibit in the CVS pharmacy windows in the spring of 2017. At the time, I was struck by the intricacy and beauty of the carvings on the horn and it quickly became one of my favorite objects in our collection. I selected nine shapes from the horn to be tattooed on my right forearm. And yes, I filled out a permission for use of images form!
When I showed the tattoos (some pictured above) to the collections and marketing committees, we started thinking about other objects in our collections that might make a great tattoo. I have identified a few in the images below, but I will also post more on a future #TattooTuesday. In the meantime, you can visit our online collections website and see if you can find any inspiration yourself!
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Back in November I wrote a post about being thankful for our visitors and their understanding that Munroe Tavern had to be closed last season as construction of Lexington Historical Society’s Archives and Research Center was being completed. While the closure was not what any staff wanted, it did provide our Interpretation Committee the unique opportunity to reassess our interpretation of the historic tavern. Throughout the season last year, we discussed what stories were key to the house and what opportunities there were to make the experience at Munroe Tavern more immersive for our visitors. After months of discussions, we were ready to unveil the new interpretation at Munroe Tavern just in time for all of the fun events of Patriot’s Day weekend on April 13.
We’ve chosen to expand the story of the British Regulars on the first floor of the Tavern by including more first-person accounts of what the British troops experienced on April 19, 1775 through the use of audio clips that are playable in each room. Thanks to some diligent research done by Stacey Fraser, LHS Collections Manager, regarding what household items make the best blood stains, we’ve added some bloody bandages and even some broken furniture to the rooms on the first floor. The hope is that visitors will have a better sense of what the tavern might have looked like when the Munroe family returned home after the events of April 19th.
As visitors move up the stairs to the second floor of the tavern, they will reconnect with the Munroe family and have the opportunity to learn about the damage that was caused to the town of Lexington during the British retreat. Interpretation Committee member and guide Joan Paglicua and I had to opportunity to do some research at the Massachusetts State Archives and were able to locate the bills of damages that were submitted by Lexington residents following the Battle of Lexington, which are on display for visitors to study.
As always, our knowledgeable guides will be on hand roving through the tavern and interacting with visitors. They will be utilizing a roving interpretation method that has become increasingly popular in museums across the nation. This roving interpretation approach allows for the visitor to determine the path of the interaction and leads to a much more conversational tone between the visitor and the interpreter.
We have also begun to introduce objects from our teaching collection into the tavern interpretation. This will allow visitors to handle reproduction objects similar to items that would have been used by the Munroe family during their everyday normal lives or even the British Regulars during their brief visit to the Tavern on April 19th.
As I said earlier, we were able to open Munroe Tavern on April 13th and will continue to be open on weekends from 12 - 4 pm through Memorial Day. After that, the tavern will be open every day from 12 - 4 pm.
We’ll also be open for a special event on Wednesday May 22nd, as part of a Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures. This event will be highlighting the Garden of Colonial Flowers outside Munroe Tavern. Members of the Lexington Field and Garden club will be on hand to discuss the garden and Munroe Tavern will be open from 10 am- 4 pm free of charge if you want to stop by for a quick visit.
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager
As many may already be aware … Lexington Historical Society will open its new Archives and Research Center in the fall of 2019! This is a very exciting time for the Society, and for me as the Archives Manager. This new building will allow us to have a handicapped accessible facility for researchers, as well as additional storage space with state-of-the-art features for our growing collections. The new processing lab will provide ample space for volunteers, interns, and staff to process collections, and the new reading room will give us additional space to exhibit some of our smaller, lesser known holdings as well as a relaxed atmosphere for conducting research.
This project is very exciting and will have so many positive effects on the Society. But it also requires that we move our archival collections from their current location at Hancock-Clarke House to the new storage space … which will be located across town behind Munroe Tavern. And this comes with its own set of challenges.
Many of our archival collections are extremely old and/or extremely fragile. The Society has been in existence since 1886, so we have done our best to improve storage conditions to align with best practices over time. Storing archival collections “properly” can be very expensive and a very time-consuming process, so to some degree we had to triage our needs. Because collections have been able to stay put in our current archives until now, it hasn’t necessarily been imperative that they be stored in a way in which they were safe to be moved. In many cases, as long as an item has been stored safely on a shelf and remains stable in its current state, that has been enough until now.
Now that everything needs to be moved across town, though, all items need to be stored properly and very securely. This will be one of the most challenging parts of planning required for this exciting move. In preparation, we closed the archives to researchers and the public as of April 15, with plans to reopen in the new space sometime in the fall. Now we have begun the rehousing process – and the archives have been covered from floor to ceiling with archival boxes, enclosures, and folders of various shapes and sizes.
Making sure that collections are housed properly is not a quick and easy project – and as I mentioned, it’s not a cheap one either. Check out the costs of just a few of the items that we have needed to order several of (or in some cases, several dozen):
And these are just a few of our more standardized items! We have hundreds of glass plate negatives and glass lantern slides in a variety of sizes, with each variation in size requiring its own set of enclosures and its own storage boxes. We have a large Bible collection, and many of the Bibles are in very fragile conditions and need their own oversize boxes in unique sizes. Every scrapbook or photo album needs to be stored (either on its own or with other similar items) in a way that it won’t have too much space to slide around in a box when lifted off of a shelf and put onto a moving truck. Oral history collections require boxes made to store cassettes, postcard collections require postcard boxes, posters and blueprints that have just been sitting on shelves until now require archival poster tubes so that they don’t get crushed in the move – and on and on. So, this is a big undertaking!
And we haven’t even discussed the necessary labeling of these boxes after the rehousing process has been completed! Each box needs to be labeled with a collection name, as well as a unique identification number (which denotes the collection number and the box number within the collection). This newly implemented ID system will serve the purpose of allowing us to individually identify each box that is involved in the move and to be able to account for each box as we inventory.
We are very excited to think, though, that after this move has been completed, most of our items will be stored safely and securely. Our boxes will be labeled clearly and will make collections easy to identify and sort through. We will feel much more comfortable giving researchers access to collections in the new reading room space, since we will now have a much clearer idea of what items are in each box in each collection. And when everything is all said and done and the hecticness of the move is complete … when we get to put these brand-new boxes with their properly housed materials on their brand-new shelving units in a brand-new building …. well, it is then that we will take a deeply satisfied sigh.
-Elizabeth Mubarek, Archives Manager
Lexington has always fought for its place in the national memory. Here, in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, we anticipate the construction of a beautiful new visitors’ center, equipped to receive guests from across the country and around the world. The challenge of telling our story – showing the world why Lexington mattered and matters – is not new, although it is certainly an evolving one. It began just in the wake of the events of April 19, 1775.
It was called the “Battle of Lexington” by the well-informed Isaiah Thomas, printer of the Massachusetts Spy. Seven of the eight men who died on Lexington Green that morning were initially buried in the old cemetery behind the current First Parish Church. It seems unbelievable that no monument was erected over that gravesite, though no evidence of what it may have looked like has surfaced.
Meanwhile, the people that had lived through the actions of that “ever-memorable” day started as early as 1777 to try and organize the building of a monument to the event. They told their stories often enough that, in 1789, the newly-elected George Washington paid a visit to the town. Washington noted that he dined at Munroe Tavern and was shown “the spot on which the first blood was spilt in the dispute with Great Britain." The event was important enough in town that the Reverend Jonas Clarke, who always recorded the day’s weather above anything, commented on the President’s visit in his journal.
Barely two years later, Reverend Clarke was on a committee selected by the town to approach the United States Congress asking for funds for the memorial marker, to be placed either over the graves of the slain as they still lay, or on the green where most of the action, as everyone could still remember, had taken place and where there was a recently vacated bit of raised ground. This attempt bore no fruit; Congress was made of men from all the States, and they each perhaps considered their own localities’ parts in the unfolding of this history just as significant as Lexington’s.
The town struggled through the 1790s with procuring funding for the project. In the end, the obscure stonecutter Thomas “Park” (possibly a relation of Captain John Parker) received a good sum from the early Massachusetts State government to execute the marker. His masterpiece is inscribed “Executed by Thos. Park.” The period after “Park” could indicate that “Thos.’s” surname was actually a punctuated “Parker.” At any rate this man’s original carving, now in the collection of Lexington Historical Society, is interesting.
Perhaps the whole thing was rushed, in a way. It does seem as though the people of Lexington wanted to set this memory in stone, literally, before the close of the eighteenth century. The words on this carving are those of the Reverend Jonas Clarke, who was still Lexington’s parson in 1799, when the memorial was finally completed on July 4 of that year. This date was certainly not by accident, although it is tempting to imagine that the original, tentative plan was for a ceremony on April 19 to mark the obelisk’s completion, but that the construction went over time and budget. In any event, the problems with Thomas Park’s craftsmanship on the finished product cannot but have become quickly apparent to onlookers.
The lines of text grow slightly more crowded as you read down the slate’s inscription, as if the stonecutter saw that he was running out of room. It uses oddly-placed underscores, even for the time, between Reverend Clarke’s ubiquitous exclamation marks. It also uses the long ‘s’ throughout, which will be familiar as the ‘s’ that looks like a lowercase ‘f’ – badly out of fashion by 1799. And worst of all, as Thomas Park cut the slivers of slate away, carefully shaping each letter, he managed to spell more than one word incorrectly.
The first line reads, “Sacred to Liberty and the Rights of Mankind”, or at least it should. The “I” is missing from the word “mankind”. A second spelling mistake can be found further down, when the tablet touts “the EVER MEMORABLE NINTENTH [sic] OF APRIL. Interestingly, our forebears have inserted carets where the missing letters should be – but other than that, the slate has suffered no graffiti or vandalism, unlike the obelisk itself, which is riddled with carvings from the nineteenth century.
In 1835, the whole memorial was rededicated, the bodies it mourned were moved into a grave beneath it, and a marble plaque, with the errors corrected, was installed in place of the original slate. The slate vanished from history until 1911, when a local family interred a loved one and discovered that the stone had been used as a seal to the family tomb, with the words facing inward, protected for countless decades from the elements. It was then given to Lexington Historical Society.
The immortal words of Reverend Clarke can be read in full from the modern image of our War Monument below. Even since so long ago, those of us that try to tell Lexington’s stories have created, sometimes made mistakes, and then reinvented.
-James Miele, Museum Shop Manager
Patriots’ Day is by far our busiest day of the year, with Buckman Tavern operating as the hub of activity that morning. The tavern is an integral part of the battle reenactment that takes place on the Green, as this is where the American militia spent their night before the battle, having been rallied together by Paul Revere and Captain John Parker. Members of the modern Lexington Minute Men occasionally spend the night in the tavern the night before the reenactment, wandering the rooms to make it look properly inhabited for any early-morning spectators walking past. A large group meets in the tap room in the early morning hours, taking in the historical ambiance, until it is time for them to face off against the British troops across the street.
The staff is on hand early as well, to prepare for the events of the day, and it is by far my favorite time to be in the tavern. Reenactors wander through the tavern and gather in the taproom, illuminated in the predawn hours by minimal light. It’s rare that the space is properly filled with historically-clothed people and seeing them huddled together in this historic place can make you feel like you’re seeing ghosts. You get a palpable sense of how a large group of men would have interacted with this space. The taproom seems to shrink in size when filled with men and weaponry, a testament to the crowding and fear that must have pervaded the building that morning. As the sound of the British drums get closer and louder, it is all too easy to imagine what it might have been like inside the house in the minutes before the battle.
The Buckman family and any tavern guests would have had a clear view of the fight from a number of windows, giving them a vivid, graphic view of the violence unfolding across the street. There were fewer trees in 1775 to obstruct the view, and no massive crowd of spectators. Instead, the colonists could only watch in horror as eight of their friends and neighbors were shot to death, right in their unimpeded sightline. Nowadays, the back window of the second floor is our best viewpoint, with the battle visible over the tops of the heads of those watching on the ground, and out of the way of the militiaman firing the first shot of the battle from the attic! It’s a completely unique viewpoint to watch the battle from. There are still times when I feel a new jolt of recognition that I am in a sacred space, getting an experience that few others do.
This year we are trying something new with this battle-viewing tradition. Every few years we like to get a newfound look at how we’re doing in terms of serving the community. Recently we have been surveying our visitors and locals to get their opinions on our institution. Anyone who completes the brief survey is entered to win a coveted spot in our favorite window on Patriots’ Day morning. For anyone who has been on the fence about taking the survey, this is your last chance! The drawing will take place later today, so be sure to let us know how you feel now, and you may be guaranteed a warm, dry Patriots’ Day morning.
UPDATE: the contest winner has been drawn and the survey is now closed!
-Sarah McDonough, Programs Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.