CONCORD – On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, a signing ceremony marked the beginning of an agreement between First Parish in Concord, owner of the Wright Tavern, and the Concord Museum. Starting this fall, the Concord Museum will provide educational programming to school groups in the Wright Tavern and open the historic building to the public for commemorative events in October and April each year. On hand for the signing were representatives of the Concord Museum and First Parish as well as members of the Wright Tavern Exploratory Committee (WTEC), appointed last fall to develop a sustainable, strategic plan to showcase the Wright Tavern as a National Historic Landmark.
“Opening the historic Wright Tavern to public and educational access will provide a true sense of place when learning about the historical events of the American Revolution,” said Mel Bernstein, member of WTEC and Chairman of the American Revolution Round Table of the Minute Man National Historical Park.
No building in this historic community was of greater consequence to the beginnings of the American Revolution than the Wright Tavern, built in 1747. The First Provincial Congress met in Concord at the Wright Tavern in October 1774, electing John Hancock as the Congress’s president and making provision for the collection of taxes. The Second Provincial Congress met there again in March and April 1775. Presided over by John Hancock with Samuel Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren in attendance, the Provincial Congress met in defiance of Royal and Parliamentary authority — creating a Massachusetts army, raising taxes, and performing other roles necessary to form its own government, independent of British authority. Then, in the early hours of April 19, 1775, Concord’s Minute Men assembled in the Wright Tavern before setting off to repel the advancing British troops at the North Bridge.
Since 1886, First Parish in Concord has owned and maintained this historic structure. “The Wright Tavern is certainly one of the most important Revolutionary War-era buildings in Concord,” explained Tim Jacoby, Chair of the First Parish Trustees of Parish Donations. “Although the building is owned by the church, we truly feel it belongs to the people of Concord and to the American people. This agreement with the Concord Museum will establish greater public accessibility to the Tavern.”
In 1961, the Wright Tavern was designated a National Historic Landmark by U.S. Secretary Fred Seaton, declaring it “an historical site of exceptional value in commemorating and illustrating the history of the United States.”
Margaret Burke, Executive Director of the Concord Museum, said: “The Museum is thrilled with this partnership to bring the importance of the Wright Tavern to the fore. Concord is home to invaluable historical and cultural resources, and this is a wonderful example of how organizations within the town are working together to promote this history and make it relevant to residents and visitors.”
Leah Walczak, the Concord Museum’s Director of Education and Public Programs, explained the role the Wright Tavern will play in educating visiting school groups: “The Museum currently provides specialized programming to over 10,000 school children each year. Along with hands-on history education using objects from the Museum’s collections, this agreement will allow us to provide programs within the setting of one of the finest historic buildings in Concord.”
This partnership was brought about through the work of the Wright Tavern Exploratory Committee, which convened from September 2015 through January 2016. Members included: John Boynton, Chair of the Exploratory Committee and a First Parish Trustee; Doug Baker, Sacristan and Curator of First Parish; Mel Bernstein, Chair of the American Revolution Round Table of Minute Man National Historical Park; Jim Cunningham, Project Manager for Barrett Farm Restoration, and Treasurer of Save Our Heritage; Sue Gladstone, Director of Development for the Concord Museum; Jayne Gordon, Public Historian for Robbins House, Thoreau Farm, and the Concord Museum; Tim Jacoby, Chair of the First Parish Trustees; Bob Morris, Chair of the Friends of Minute Man National Historical Park; and Tom Wilson, First Parish Treasurer.