|What to See & Do in Lexington MA|
|When you approach Battle Green and come up to the Minuteman statue (erected in 1900), you'll feel the great historic significance of the spot. Battle Green is really where the American revolution began.|
The best time to visit Lexington's historic sights is, of course, on Patriots Day, at dawn on April 19 (or therabouts), when the townfolk reenact the famous confrontation with festivities, real musket fire, and fife-and-drum corps.
But any day after April 19, until the end of October, will do. Note that most of the happenings and places mentioned below are closed between November 1 and April 18.
The ivy-covered monument on the southwest part of the Green marks the burial spot of seven of the eight Minutemen killed on the memorable day, April 19, 1775. The boulder that sits incongruously on the soft grass of the Green marks the place where the Minutemen drew up in a double rank to face the British grenadiers.
Lexington Green looked much different in 1775 than it does today. The colonial meetinghouse, or church building, was located near where the Minuteman statue stands today. Because it was mid-April on the day of the battle, and because the Green was in the center of town traffic, it may have been pretty muddy rather than "green."
Historic Houses & Taverns
The Lexington Historical Society maintains severa historic houses and taverns dating from revolutionary times: Buckman Tavern, Munroe Tavern, and Hancock-Clarke House.
Of the houses, Buckman Tavern (1709), facing Lexington Green, is the most important. Here, in the taproom, many of the Minutemen waited out the time between that first midnight call to muster and the final arrival of the British forces at daybreak. After the battle, the wounded were brought here and laid out on the tables for treatment.
Tours are given by young guides well versed in their subject, which not only encompasses the events of the battle, but ranges much more widely, covering a great number of topics on life in the colonies at the time of the Revolution. They'll tell you about the construction of the tavern; about the people who came there to stay, or to have a drink, or for a reception or tea; what and how they ate and drank, how they cooked, slept, and kept warm in unheated rooms.
The tavern has an excellent collection of utensils, tools, and implements from the period, "time- and labor-saving devices" that show a good deal of Yankee ingenuity. The tour is well worth the price of admission. The tavern is located opposite the Common and has a gift shop.
Munroe Tavern (1695), 1332 Massachusetts Avenue, was to the British what Buckman Tavern was to the Colonials: a headquarters and a place to care for the wounded after the battle. Today it's furnished with antiques and battle mementoes and is open to the public on the same basis as Buckman Tavern. It's a walk (or a short drive) from Battle Green, about seven blocks southeast along Massachusetts Avenue; the tavern will be on your right.
The third significant house is the Hancock-Clarke House (1698), 36 Hancock Street, which was the parsonage of the Reverend Jonas Clarke at the time of the battle, and it was with Clarke that John Hancock and Samual Adams, the two "rabble-rousers" most wanted by the British authorities, hid themselves during the uncertain days before the battle.
Clarke's house was the goal of Paul Revere when he heard of the British plan to march into the countryside. Revere actually came to Clarke's house twice to warn Adams and Hancock: on April 15, just after hearing that the British were about to do something, and again on April 18, the night the British troops moved out. The house is located only about a block north of Battle Green.
Ye Olde Burying Ground
Several other sights in Lexington are worth a look. Ancient gravestones are the attraction at Ye Olde Burying Ground, just off Battle Green by the church, on its western side. The oldest stone dates from 1690.
The Battle of Lexington
Another way to get into the spirit of the day of battle is to visit Cary Memorial Hall, several blocks southeast of the Green along Massachusetts Avenue, between the town offices and the police station. Here you can see Sandham's famous painting The Battle of Lexington, and also statues of John Hancock and Samuel Adams.