Lexington MA History

New Version of Popular School Program

CK presentation The National Heritage Museum is excited to announce the new version of our popular third-grade program, “Colonial Kids.”  The existing program offered only a peek into the daily life of a colonial-era Lexington family.  By taking a cue from one of the grade 3 standards –Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for History and Social Sciences (“Explain important political, economic, and military developments leading to and during the American Revolution”) – and incorporating new research, we refocused the program to highlight one of Lexington’s most interesting pre-Revolutionary War events. 

On December 13, 1773, Lexington residents took deliberate action to go along with the town’s recently drafted “Resolves against the Tea Act,” subsequently published in newspapers around the colonies.  According to a contemporary article, “… they brought together every ounce (of tea) contained in the town, and committed it to one common bonfire.”  This event, overlooked in history for its much more spectacular sister-protest, the Boston Tea Party, that took place three days later, demonstrated Lexington’s role as a quiet hotbed of rebellious rhetoric.  So, for this new program, we chose December 13, 1773, as the day we would interpret and incorporated that event into our story.

To make our “day in the life” concept work, we chose an historic Lexington family with young children.  Students can easily relate to children their own age. We also wanted a family that might have had some involvement with the tea burning.  We settled on the Benjamin and Sarah Brown family.  They had seven children between the ages of 3 and 25 at home on December 13, 1773. The Browns were also well represented in primary sources, including tax assessments, Benjamin’s will, and town meeting records. We even learned that the town paid for daughter Sarah to keep school in the family’s house.  Her father, Benjamin, was also one of the select group of five men unanimously chosen to draft the “Resolves against the Tea Act” at Lexington town meeting.

To develop engaging activities, we researched the types of chores members of the household would do at that time of year, as well as the types of food they ate, the clothing they wore, and leisure activities they engaged in.  Unusual questions popped up during the research, such as “Did the Browns own a tall-case clock in 1773?” (likely) and “Was there a bell ringer for the town?” (yes).  With further research into primary and secondary sources, and help from historian Mary Fuhrer, we were able to find answers.

The final program contains activities to teach students about clothing, dairy production, and schooling, as well as critical thinking questions to help them understand the concept of “protest” and the similarities or differences between lifestyles in 1773 and now.  Upon testing the program, we found third graders studying the Revolutionary War relate well to the concepts of protest and boycott.  They also love to hear that Lexington beat Boston to the punch by burning their tea three days before Samuel Adams and friends dumped the East India Company’s tea into the harbor.

The new “Colonial Kids” program is now available for school groups in grades K-3.  For information on this and other tours and programs, and to find out how to make reservations, please visit the National Heritage Museum’s website.  You can also see our previous post on the Lexington Tea Bonfire.


Patriots' Day Lasts All Week at the Museum!

Doolittle Battle 87-49-2a Patriots' Day is a long-standing Massachusetts holiday celebrated each year on the third Monday of April. The day is set aside to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first military engagements of the American Revolution. If you live in the area, however, "Patriots' Day" stretches into "Patriots' Day Week." Public schools enjoy a week-long spring vacation and families take day-trips to the many local events related to the holiday.

If you have a bit of free time during this special week, the National Heritage Museum offers programs and exhibitions that will help you celebrate.

Farmer-solider Join us on Saturday, April 16, at 2:00 PM for a gallery talk featuring "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution," our keystone exhibition that explores life in this small farming community where ordinary people made extraordinary choices that shaped history. Museum staff will give you the inside scoop on Lexington before British soldiers marched into town on April 19, 1775. The gallery talk is free.  

Meeting Billy On Patriots’ Day itself, Monday, April 18, the Museum will be open to the public from 10 AM to 4:30 PM. After attending the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington at the crack of dawn and breakfasting on pancakes prepared by one of the town's civic organizations, come to the Museum. From 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM, visiting families are invited to drop in to celebrate Patriots’ Day with arts and crafts activities exploring life in 1775. The admissions charge for the craft activities is $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members). While you are here, take the opportunity to explore “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution.” Families with young children who visit the exhibition can look forward to meeting and reading about Billy the Patriot Mouse.

LexingtonAlarmLetter An exciting piece of American history will make its annual appearance at the Museum during the holiday week. You won't want to miss seeing the Lexington Alarm Letter, on view from Saturday, April 16 through Saturday, April 23. This document was written on the morning of April 19, 1775, and was used to alert the colonies that war with England had begun. Previous posts to our blog include: a transcription of the letter's text; details on the important role it played in the 24 hours after the Battle; and a reconstruction of the route the letter took to New York City.

If you are interested in learning more about Patriots' Day and the Battle of Lexington, take a look at related posts to our blog. In exploring the following links, you'll learn some incredible facts about the beginnings of the American Revolution in Lexington and see some fascinating objects from our collection:

Finally, if you are an educator or a student of the Revolutionary era, check out the following posts:

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum. If you have questions about our April programming or about our exhibitions, please call the Museum at 781-861-6559. Please refer to our website for opening hours and directions.

Photo credits:

The Battle of Lexington,” 1775. Amos Doolittle (1754-1832), New Haven, Connecticut. Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut

Farmer, 2007. Joe Farnham, National Heritage Museum

Meeting Billy, 2007. Sheli Peterson, National Heritage Museum

Lexington Alarm Letter, 1775. Daniel Tyler, Brooklyn, Connecticut. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A95/011/1


Say Hello to Billy the Patriot Mouse on Patriot’s Day!

Drilling for blog In 2007, at the opening of “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution," the museum introduced Billy the Patriot Mouse.  Since then, visitors to the exhibition, especially younger ones, have enjoyed following Billy through pictures in the gallery and a book that tells his story.  Museum staff, working with illustrator Sheli Petersen, created Billy to help young children engage with the exhibition.  Looking out for Billy in each section of the exhibition allows families to experience the events of 1775 through his eyes (or at least imagine them). 

Billy lives with the Estabrook family of Lexington and participates in happenings throughoutBilly on farm small "Seeds of Liberty."  Billy steals cheese in the Loring kitchen, listens to political gossip at John Parker's wheelwright shop and watches the Lexington Tea Bonfire.  After the battle at Lexington, he travels with Prince Estabrook (by pocket) and later fights with the troops in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Although Billy is placed at the eye-level of a child, he has attracted the attention of visitors of all ages.   Many visitors note on comment cards that Billy is who they would most like to meet of all the people introduced in the exhibition. 

We hope you will seek out Billy on your next visit.  The museum is open this Patriot's Day.

 

Credits:

Illustrations by Sheli Petersen, 2007, National Heritage Museum


Does This Building Ring a Bell?

91_037_2aDP1 Did you know that the Old Belfry is the only site in Lexington, Massachusetts, to ever appear on an official United States coin?  In 1925, the United States Mint issued over 162,000 Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollars to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening battles in the American Revolution.  Each silver half dollar bore the image of the Old Belfry on the reverse or back side, along with Daniel Chester French’s (1850-1931) Minute Man statue from Concord, Massachusetts, on the obverse or front.  The National Heritage Museum owns two of these coins, which it received in 1991, along with their original presentation boxes.

The town of Lexington originally built the Old Belfry in 1762 on land owned by Jonas Munroe. Six years later, the Belfry was moved to the town common, where it stood during the Battle of Lexington. On the night of April 19, 1775, the Belfry’s bell sounded the alarm that the British regulars were coming.  While the original Belfry was destroyed in 1909, the Lexington Historical Society built an exact replica in 1910 on its original Belfry Hill location. 91_037_2aDP2

During the months leading up to the anniversary celebration, the United States Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Commission came up with the idea for the commemorative half dollar, and created a preliminary design for the coin.  Next, the Commission, which was primarily composed of residents of the two towns, hired noted sculptor Chester Beach (1881-1956) to turn their blueprint into a metallic reality.  While Beach is most famous for his marble and bronze statues and busts, including The Unveiling of Dawn (1913) and Fountain of the Waters (1927), he also designed the Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half Dollar (1923), and produced the models for the Hawaii Sesquicentennial Half Dollar (1928).

91_037_2bDP1 Although Beach had his own ideas of how the coin should look, the Commission insisted that he follow their predetermined design.  In the end, he reluctantly created models for the coin that met the Commission’s exact specifications, but refused to sign the design as he had done for his previous half dollars.  Each coin came in a pine presentation box, with the Concord Minute Man and the Belfry, respectively, printed on the lid and the bottom of the box.  While Beach may not have been satisfied with the final product, fairgoers in Lexington and Concord liked the coins enough to buy 60,000 of them between April 18 and 20, 1925.  An unseasonable snowfall impacted the turnout for the fair, which featured a reenactment of the battle at the North Bridge in Concord, and an elaborate military parade afterward.  Collectors in New England bought most of the leftover coins.  

While the Massachusetts State Quarter, issued in 2000, showed a figure resembling the renowned Minute Man statue in Concord, the Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar remains the only legally issued American coin to depict a Lexington landmark.  Will the Mint recognize Lexington again in 2025, for the 250th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord?  We hope so!

References:

"1775 Battle Acted at Concord Bridge: Great Crowds See a Pageant in Which Minute Men Again Face British Regulars. Throngs at Lexington Dawes and Pershing Take Part In Series of Exercises Beginning With Paul Revere's Ride." New York Times (1857-Current file), April 21, 1925, www.proquest.com (accessed January 11, 2010).

Murphy, Ian. “Lexington Belfry Has Storied History.” The Concord Journal, April 11, 2007, http://www.wickedlocal.com/concord/fun/entertainment/arts/x1605763781 (accessed January 21, 2010).

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. “1925 Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar.” Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, http://www.ngccoin.com/CoinDetail.aspx?ContentID=161 (accessed January 8, 2010).

Opitz, Glenn B., ed. Dictionary of American Sculptors: 18th Century to the Present. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1984.

Tour Lexington, Massachusetts. “Historic Sites and Museums.” The Liberty Ride, http://www.libertyride.us/historic.html (accessed January 11, 2010).

Yeoman, R.S. A Guide Book of United States Coins, 2010 (63rd Edition): The Official Red Book. Edited by Kenneth Bressett. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, 2009.

Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial Half Dollar and Box, 1925, U.S. Mint, Washington, D.C., National Heritage Museum collection, gift of Dorothy L. and Stephen W. Smith, 91.037.2a-c.  Photograph by David Bohl.


Hancock Church Silver in “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty”

Among the many treasures on view in “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution” are some wonderful examples of communion silver.  Residents of Lexington first used them to take communion as part of their worship over 240 years ago.  In addition to playing an essential role in the service, these cups, associated with different members of the Hancock family, were fashioned to be enduring memorials.

In the 1700s in Lexington and other New England towns, only church members took communion from these during Sunday services. Not all who attended the First Church in Lexington were members. To become a member, a man or woman needed to publicly confess their transgressions and be saved.  During that time, in Congregational churches, church goers commissioned communion silver that could be passed easily from hand to hand.  As well, they selected forms based on the kinds of vessels they used in their own in households, including beakers and cups like these.   Although these forms may have been familiar to Lexingtonians, the fact that they were crafted of a precious metal made them anything but ordinary.

EL99_001_11a-bT1 On a gray day, polished silver would have glinted, shone and added glamour to the meeting house.  In addition to their aesthetic properties, the monetary value of these cups ensured they were well looked after.  In fact, these cups may have been among those cared for by the elder church deacon, Joseph Loring (1713-1787), at his home in 1775. On April 19, still in shock from the morning's battle, Lexington residents worried that British soldiers might loot homes on their way back from Concord. To protect her family's and the church's valuables, the deacon’s daughter, Lydia (b. 1745), hid these portable valuables under a pile of brush behind the house. She was smart to have done so.  British soldiers pillaged the Lorings' home and burned itto the ground, but Lexington did not lose its communion silver. 

Both of these cups both memorialize Hancock family members.  Successful Boston businessman Thomas Hancock (1703-1763) grew up in Lexington. He was the son of John Hancock (1671-1752), the town’s first minister. Upon his death, he left £20 to his father’s former church, specifying it be used to make “two silver cups for the communion table.”  Thomas Hancock, with his wife Lydia, raised his nephew, also named John Hancock (1736/7-1793).  The younger John Hancock later served as the President of the Continental Congress and in that capacity added his now-famous signature the the Declaration of Independence.   
 
EL99_001_7S1 small Also a son of the Reverend John Hancock, Ebenezer Hancock (1710-1740) followed in his father’s footsteps and served as his assistant for six years. He died at the age of thirty, possibly in a diphtheria epidemic.  Made of valuable, long-lasting material and permanently marked with his name, this present to the church endured well after the memory of Ebenezer’s contributions to town life faded.

The National Heritage Museum is grateful to the First Parish Church of Lexington, Unitarian Universalist, for the loan of the communion silver that helps tell the story of April 19, 1775.

Photographs:

Footed Cups, 1764. Nathaniel Hurd (1729/30-1777), Boston, Massachusetts. Loaned by First Parish Church of Lexington, Unitarian Universalist, EL99.001.011a and.011b. Photograph by David Bohl

Beaker, ca. 1740. Jacob Hurd (1702/03-1758), Boston, Massachusetts. Loaned by First Parish Church of Lexington, Unitarian Universalist, EL99.001.7. Photograph by David Bohl


The Lexington Tea Bonfire

Most fans of colonial history know about one of the era’s now-famous historical protests, the Boston Tea Party, when, on December 16, 1773, about 150 men disguised as Native Americans dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.  You can see tea thought to have been dumped from these chests in “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution.” Here at the museum, we also like to talk about this event’s earlier and lesser-known cousin, the Lexington Tea Bonfire.

 

Like the Bostonians who protested the 1773 Tea Act, Lexington residents took issue with the  act that gave the East India Company a lock on the tea market in the colonies by exempting that company from paying a duty on the tea they exported to the colonies.  These colonists disagreed with Parliament’s privileging the East India Company (and thus impeding local businesses’ ability to turn a profit selling tea) and objected to Parliament taxing subjects without their input.
 
Green and white teapot 91_025-12a-bT1 In early December 1773, Lexington voters gathered to discuss "the tea sent out of the East India Company to be sold in America subject to a duty imposed by Act of Parliament."  As often happened at a meeting of Lexington freeholders, the group appointed a committee to put together a report on the topic for the town to consider and discuss.  On December 13, voters passed a hotly worded resolve against the Tea Act, describing it as a “... Measure to distress, Enslave and destroy Us.”  To this resolve, they added a statement declaring, “That if any Head of a Family in this Town or any Person shall from this time forward and until the Duty be taken off purchase any Tea or use or Consume any Tea in their Families such person shall be looked upon as an Enemy to this Town and to the Country and shall by this Town be treated with neglect and Contempt.”

 

Further expressing their outrage and resolve, as a Boston newspaper recounted, Lexingtonians “… brought together every ounce [of tea] contained in the town, and committed it to one common bonfire.”  Published in the Massachusetts Spy on December 16, 1773, this account confirms that Lexington residents were ahead of the curve when it came to protesting the Tea Act.

 

Teapot, ca. 1765. England. National Heritage Museum, Special Acquisitions Fund, 91.025.12a-b.  Photograph by David Bohl.


References: The Marketplace of Revolution:  How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence, T. H. Breen (Oxford University Press: New York) 2004, pp. 294-331.


See also the NHM curriculum and NHM’s Learning Blog.  


The Massachusetts Women's Corps

2007_038a-cT1 Uniform The uniform seen here was originally worn by Anne E. Gedges (1916-2007), a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Corps (MWC) during World War II.  As Gedges explained in a letter years later, the MWC offered local women a way to assist the war effort:

Women wanted to do something to help end the war so we volunteered to serve coffee + doughnuts on the Boston Common, collected money for the U.S.O. at the Boston Garden + other theaters, worked Sundays at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea…We marched in parades and felt we were better than the National Guard staying in step.”

The uniform includes a red patch on one shoulder that shows a gold-colored coffeepot, reflecting one of the group’s activities.  A lapel pin on the jacket includes the motto, Paratus Et Fidelis – Latin for “faithful and ready.”  The uniform was donated to the National Heritage Museum in 2007 by Gedges' niece.

Geddes Photo RESIZED The photograph at right shows Gedges with the rest of her local group.  She stands at the center of the second row of women, wearing her uniform.  The donor also gave a certificate documenting her honorable discharge from this service in 1946 to the Museum with the uniform and the photograph.  After the war, Gedges taught in the Waltham school system.  She lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, for much of her life.

Massachusetts Women’s Corps Uniform, ca. 1942, Leopold Morselo, Boston, Massachusetts. National Heritage Museum, gift of H. Thaddeus and Ellen Wolosinski, 2007.038a-c.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Photograph of Anne Gedges and Massachusetts Women’s Corps Unit, ca. 1942, Boston, Massachusetts. National Heritage Museum, gift of H. Thaddeus and Ellen Wolosinski.


Tempus Fugit

Willard Tall Case Clock cropped Lexington’s own Nathaniel Mulliken (1722–1767) likely trained Benjamin Willard (1743–1803), the maker of this clock--but not for long.  Mulliken died in 1767, only a year or so after Willard is thought to have arrived in Lexington.  Willard lived in Lexington, perhaps off and on, to make clocks with Mulliken’s teenaged son, Nathaniel, until December 1771. 

Analysis of the numbers and locations marked on Benjamin Willard’s surviving clocks—this one is number 80—suggest that he made over 20 clocks per year before colonial tensions with Britain, a weakening market and scarce supplies, particularly metal, disrupted his work.  If you are interested in learning more, see the publication Clock Making in New England cited below.

This clock provided Willard's client with a device that measured hours, minutes, and seconds. But this clock did more than tell the time, it also conveyed a moral lesson. Willard decorated its dial with silver colored disk bearing the engraved image of an fierce bird, possibly an eagle, and the Latin motto "Tempus Fugit," loosely translated as “Time Flies.” Perhaps he and the clock’s owner wanted to remind everyone of the importance of using time well.Willard clock tempus fugit 

Willard’s clock is one of almost 100 exhibited in “For All Time:  Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum,” on view until February 21, 2010. 

Tall Case Clock, 1766–1771. Benjamin Willard (1743–1803), Lexington, Massachusetts. Gift of Robert T. Dann in memory of Dr. James R. and Constance D. Gallagher, 98.028a-g.

References

Philip Zea and Robert C. Cheney, Clock Making in New England, 1725-1825:  An Intrepretation of the Old Sturbridge Village Collection, Sturbridge, Massachusetts:  Old Sturbridge Village, 1992.


"Lexington in 1775": School Curricula Go Online

Farmer-solider

The National Heritage Museum's website has been expanded to include a curriculum webpage. This location will be the home of a collection of original materials created in conjunction with our long-term installation "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution." Generated from the extensive primary source research that also forms the background of "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty," these lessons provide classroom educators with source-based, lively, and innovative units appropriate for primary and secondary school instruction. "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" opened in April 2007. This cornerstone exhibition was designed to stimulate new ways of thinking about the battle at Lexington on April 19, 1775, a conflict that has long sparked the American imagination. Now, we are eager to acquaint educators all over the country with additional material that supplements the exhibition.

Lexington in 1775: Colonial Life and the American Revolution

The National Heritage Museum’s curriculum development team has created teaching materials for the third and the fifth grades that conform to the Massachusetts Department of Education’s history curriculum framework. The third grade unit focuses in local history. Students learn about everyday life in colonial Lexington by taking on the roles of real children who lived in the town in 1775. Through exploring family life, farm life, the economy, and community life, students come to understand that English colonists living in Lexington wanted to protect their freedom to own land and to govern themselves. The fifth grade lessons build on the third grade units with explorations of slavery in New England, taxation, women’s political participation, and self-government in Massachusetts.

Join the Conversation or Visit "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty"

Please join the conversation about this material through your feedback on our blog for educators, Learning at the National Heritage Museum: Using Primary Sources to Reconstruct the Past or by writing to us at programs@monh.org.

 

To learn more about group tours of "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" and other educational programming at the National Heritage Museum, write to us at groups@monh.org.

 

Illustration by Joe Farnham, 2007

 


Our Corner of the World

Nhm_google_earthAs you can see from this Google Earth image showing our Museum in Lexington, MA, we are surrounded by quite a bit of green and open space.  This is partly because our sponsoring organization, who purchased 22 acres of land in 1968, wanted room enough for a headquarters for the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) and a Museum and Library, and the fact that the Town of Lexington has had a longstanding commitment to conservation.  It was determined early on that the existing home and carriage house on the property could be used for administrative offices so the NMJ went about planning for a national museum on the campus. The Town worked with the architects to scale the design and roof lines in keeping with the existing residential neighborhood.  The result was an A.I.A. award-winning building -- and the retention of lots of trees and open space.

One of the wonderful aspects about our campus, and something not many places can claim, is that if you look at maps of our corner of the world for the past 230 years or so, you can see a lot of the original openness remains.

Lex_map_1775_3We are located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Marrett Road.  In 1775, when General Gage's Regulars passed on what is now Massachusetts Avenue (the road to the far right on the Google map above), it was known as the County Road or, to old timers as the Great Road (to Cambridge or to Concord depending which way you were traveling).  Marrett Road was the Road to Bridge Farm.  In this close-up recreation of Lexington in 1775 produced for the April 19th Bicentennial in 1975, you can see no buildings stand on what is now our corner property.  There were several houses and farms in the general vicinity and one of the closest was the Munroe Tavern, which remains today about a half a mile from us up Massachusetts Avenue.

A hundred and one years later Lexington was more settled.  The portion of an 1876 map below shows buildings belonging to both 'Nunn' and 'Tower' on our current property.  According to Lexington historian Charles Hudson, "William Augustus Tower (1824-1904) was born in Petersham the eldest of 11 children.  In 1850 he moved to Boston and entered the flour and grain business in Haymarket Square, as a member of the firm of Rice, Tower & Co."  He first bought property in Lexington in 1855, and went on to become a successful merchant and banker.  Thomas Sileo, in Historic Guide to Open Space in Lexington provides more details: Tower purchased a house and land in Lexington from Jacob J. Nichols, on the hill, and in 1873 he had a Victorian mansion built.  By 1886 the Tower estate included a barn and stable, 2 cottages, a tea house with a flower garden and greenhouse, a windmill, 8 horses, 2 cows, and 8 carriages.  Initially the Tower’s family spent summers in Lexington and winters on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston but later he lived in Lexington year around.  By 1904 when he died, Tower owned 127 acres. In 1906, Tower’s son Richard, also a banker, erected a red brick house on the knoll off Marrett Road.  It is Richard Tower's renovated home that is now the Scottish Rite's NMJ headquarters. William Tower’s original Victorian House which was closer to Pelham Road, no longer exists.  Tower's daughter, Ellen, continued to live in Lexington and it was she who donated Tower Park (across Mass. Avenue from the Museum) to the Town in 1928 in honor of her father.  Though accounts of Tower and how active he was in Lexington differ in various histories about Lexington, notably he was Chief Marshall at the Lexington Centennial on April 19, 1875.

Lex_map_1775_2The Chas. Nunn (1828-1882) house (noted on map at left) is closer to where our Museum sits today.  Edwin B. Worthen, in Tracing the Past in Lexington, Massachusetts, pays special attention to East Lexington, where he grew up. In the chapter, 'The East Village as I remember it', he reminisces: "Opposite our house on the upper corner of the present Marrett Road lived the Nunns in the big house now owned by Ralph Smith.  Much earlier there had been a small house on the property which probably dated from the early 1800s.  Mr. Nunn  came to Lexington before the Civil War married Susan Pierce and built the present residence.... I do not remember Mr. Nunn as he died in 1882 but he had taken his part in town affairs."  Town records for 1860 indicate Nunn had a much smaller estate than the adjoining Tower's.  He owned 1 house, 1 barn, 1.5 acres of land and paid $47.80 for real estate tax that year.  The Nunn house no longer exists today as it was destroyed by fire on November 10, 1972.

The horses and windmill are gone, and admittedly the footprint of both the Museum and the headquarters of the Scottish Rite NMJ are larger than the original Nunn and Tower properties, and, of course, we've added a parking lot to accommodate visitors.  However, if you take another look at the Google Earth image above or come to visit us in person, it's definitely possible to imagine what this area looked like in the past.

Many useful resources exist that make any research about Lexington's past easy to find.  Our Library has extensive resources about Lexington, its early residents and Revolutionary War history.  Our Archives hold materials related to the development of the property (including blueprints and correspondence).  Please contact the Library & Archives for more information and assistance.

The sections of the 1775 and 1876 maps used above are both courtesy of Cary Memorial Library in Lexington and appear here with their permission.  Cary Library and the Lexington Historical Society have excellent local collections and helpful staff members.  Additional records are available through the Town Clerk's office at Lexington Town Hall and some old records are available through the state.  Full information for the titles used above from our own collection include:

Hudson, Charles.  History of the Town of Lexington.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1913.
Call number:  F74 .L67 H91 1913 v.1 and 2

Sileo, Thomas P.  Historical Guide to Open Space in Lexington.  Lexington : Thomas P. Sileo, 1995. 
Call number:  F 74 .L67 S5 1995

Worthen, Edwin B.  Tracing the Past in Lexington, Massachusetts.  New York: Vantage Press, 1998.
Call number:  F 74 .L67 W67 1998. 
This (and other Worthen books) contain many useful maps.  Cary Memorial Library holds the entire Worthen Map collection which shows the progression of Lexington beginning in 1636 in a series of maps drawn by Mr. Worthen in 1924.