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  • HISTORIC STRUCTURE REPORT

    THE MUNROE TAVERN

    LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS

    Deane Rykerson and Anne A. Grady January 2010

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    PROJECT TEAM

    Owner Structural Engineer Lexington Historical Society Aberjona Engineering P.O. Box 514 One Mt. Vernon St. Third Fl. Lexington MA 02420 Winchester MA 01890 781 862 1703 781 729 7960 Architect HVAC/Elec/Plumbing/Fire Protect Engineer Rykerson Architecture R. W. Sullivan Engineering 1 Salt Marsh Lane 529 Main St., Suite 203 Kittery Point ME 03905 Boston MA 02129 207 439 8755 617 523 8227 rykersonarchitecture@comcast.net Architectural Historian Landscape Design Anne A. Grady Wendy M. Pomeroy Landscape Design 10 Trotting Horse Drive 1 Salt Marsh Lane Lexington MA 02421 Kittery Point ME 03905 781 862 8977 207 439 8791 agrady@eonconnect.com

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    The authors wish to express their appreciation to Susan Bennett, Executive Director of the Lexington Historical Society, and to Elaine and Sam Doran of the Society for their assistance in the preparation of this report. We acknowledge the previous research on the Munroe Tavern and its owners by Mary Fuhrer and Polly Kienle, and we wish to thank Frederica Cushman for help with historic photographs.

    This project was funded by a Lexington Community Preservation Act grant.

    Cover: Drawing of the Munroe Tavern in the 1870s by Edwin Whitefield. Courtesy of Historic New England.

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    I. INTRODUCTION - 1 II. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS - 2

    III. SIGNIFICANCE A. Historical - 7 B. Architectural -8 IV. HISTORICAL ANALYSIS A. Title History - 9 B. History of Property Ownership, Occupancy and Use - 9 V. ARCHITECTURAL ANALYSIS A. Design Derivation - 19 B. Preliminary Dendrochronology Results - 20 C. Original Construction - 21 D. Overview of Changes Over Time - 24 E. Exterior Views of the Munroe Tavern Over Time - 31 F. Building History by Category 38 1. Foundation and Site - 38 2. Framing and Exterior Walls - 40 3. Sash and Doors - 47 4. Roof, Gutters and Chimneys - 47 5. Interiors - 48 Room 001. Southwest Cellar - 48 Room 002. Southeast Cellar - 48 Room 003; Room 004. Crawlspace - 48 Room 101. Percy Room, Parlor - 48 Room 102. Front Stair Hall - 53 Room 103. Bar Room - 54 Room 104. Dining Room - 57 Room 105. Back Stair Hall - 59 Room 106. Side Hall - 60 Room 107. Shop, Small Parlor - 61 Room 108. Kitchen - 63 Room 109. Pantry - 64 Room 110. Lavatory - 64 Room 111. Garden Room - 64 Room 112. East Garden Room - 64 Room 201. Washington Room - 64 Room 202. Front Stair Hall Upper - 68 Room 203. Northeast Chamber, Bar Room Chamber - 68 Room 204. Storage Room East - 70

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    Room 205. Back Stair Hall - 70 Room 206. Office - 70 Room 207. Bathroom - 71 Room 208. Storage Room West - 70 Attic - 71 6. Utilities - 71 7. Paint - 72 8. Hardware - 73 VI. SURVEY OF PHYSICAL CONDITION - 74 BIBLIOGRAPHY - 109 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND RECOMMENDATIONS - 112

    APPENDIX - 114

    Unless otherwise credited, all historic photographs illustrated are courtesy of the Lexington Historical Society

    Pen and ink drawing of the Munroe Tavern as it appeared before 1859

    by Edwin Graves Champney, artist, 1880.

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    Existing Cellar Plan with Room Numbers.

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    Existing First Floor Plan with Room Numbers.

  • Munroe Tavern Historic Structure Report ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    Existing Second Floor Plan with Room Numbers.

  • Munroe Tavern: Historic Structure Report

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    1

    I. INTRODUCTION This Historic Structure Report was undertaken as part of a larger project to repair and restore the Munroe Tavern and to implement measures to accommodate new building uses and accessibility. The information in the report is intended to serve as the basis for current and future preservation decisions regarding the Tavern. The project, following on the successful renovation of the Hancock-Clarke House in 2008, is the Lexington Historical Societys second recent initiative to improve the care of its properties and collections and to provide for current programmatic and interpretive needs. The initial phase for research, design, architectural and engineering studies, and for preservation recommendations, presented in this report, was funded by Community Preservation Act funds of the Town of Lexington. The report was prepared in 2009.

    Old Munroe Tavern as it appeared before 1859. Reproduced from Charles Hudson, History of the Town of Lexington, 1868.

  • Munroe Tavern: Historic Structure Report

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    2

    II. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The Munroe Tavern holds a prominent place in the history of the Town of Lexington for its role in the Revolution, as a long-lived tavern, and for the past 98 years, as a popular house museum. The propertys position on the main road to Concord early on established a pattern of public accommodation that continued for nearly 150 years. The size of the property, varying between 21 and 50 acres over time, provided acreage sufficient for farming. The owners, like nearly all the residents of Lexington, supplemented farming with other occupations to make a living. Although a recent dendrochronology study indicates that the earliest part of the present building was built in 1735, there were buildings on the property from the mid 1690s on. With the exception of a small seventeenth-century cellar hole uncovered northwest of the Tavern in 1984 and a few reused joists in the southeast cellar, virtually no physical remains of the earlier buildings and outbuildings survive above ground. The building of 1735 included the current front rooms and a lean-to behind where the kitchen was located. Remains of the kitchen fireplace at the back of the central chimney have recently been discovered.

    Kitchen fireplace evidence uncovered September 2009. Wooden portion at top is apparently the remains of the mantelpiece. Bricks below fill in previous firebox.

    Paul Doherty, photographer. The history of ownership and use of the tavern property and of important events in the history of the site is described in the Historical Analysis section of this report. Highlights of the Taverns history include the role of William Munroe (1742-1827), later Col. Munroe, in the events of April 18-19, 1775, and the Taverns occupation by Earl Percy and his soldiers for two hours on the afternoon of the nineteenth. These redcoats destroyed stores of liquor and furniture, set a fire that was quickly extinguished, and killed caretaker, John Raymond, while a terrified Anna Munroe and her children hid in the woods behind the house. George Washingtons visit to dine at the Tavern on Nov. 5, 1789, was the next event of note. The construction of the large Masonic

  • Munroe Tavern: Historic Structure Report

    Rykerson Architecture / Anne A. Grady January 2010

    3

    Hall on the north side of the Tavern in 1798 (demolished in 1860) added a new dimension to the history of the building, offering as it did space for lectures, entertainments and sleeping accommodations, when not in use by the Masons. Though intermittently at first, the property was used as a tavern from 1713 until 1850. As such it embodies an important chapter in the history of the Town. Because of its location on travel routes from the north and being only a days walk from the stockyards in Brighton, Lexington became the locus of twelve taverns primarily serving drovers. This was a major enterprise in town until eclipsed by the coming of the railroad in 1846. For 75 years, the Munroe Tavern benefited from having particularly genial hosts in William Munroe and Jonas Munroe, who operated the Tavern from 1774 to 1820 and from 1820 to1850, respectively. After Jonas Munroes death in 1860, the Tavern became a private residence when it was inherited by his son, William Henry. Although William H. Munroe rented out most of the rooms, he maintained the former bar room and the chamber above for his own use until his death in 1902. By 1875, in a period of increasing interest in the American past, the Tavern was becoming known as an icon of the American Revolution. Mr. Munroe opened the tavern to