Playing “I Spy” at Buckman Tavern in Lexington, Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is filled with memorable historic sites and important dates in America’s history, and one of the most famous is April 19, 1775. On the early hours of April 19th, Paul Revere and William Dawes’ rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other “Minute Men” that 850 British soldiers, also known as “Redcoats”, were coming to nearby Concord to steal the their supply of weapons and ammunition. The Minute Men, a group of local militia, waited at Buckman Tavern for the arrival of the British Redcoats. With the firing of a shot from an unknown source (it’s still debated today who fired the first shot), the American Revolution began.

Today, the Lexington Historical Society oversees four historically significant properties in Lexington, including Buckman Tavern, and preserves their legacy and many of the artifacts left behind. The Historical Society welcomes visitors to these sites throughout the year, and it’s a great way to see, up close, an important part of America’s birth.

Stopping at the Lexington Visitors’ Center: Located next door to the Tavern, the Visitor Center is a great first stop. There are exhibits explaining the timeline of April 19, 1775 (along with the diorama meticulously created by Major William Francis Buckley in the late 1950s), an exhibit honoring the five US Naval ships named the USS Lexington (with photos and paintings donated by former crew members), and very helpful staff who can make itinerary suggestions, and offer advice on dining, lodging, and other local attractions. There is a gift shop with local apparel and gifts, water bottle filling stations, restrooms on the lower level, and lots of lawn games outside the Center during warmer months. 

Travel Tips:

  • Buckman’s Tavern is open from March through late November daily 10am-4pm and on weekends in January and February; Check here for up to date information on admissions and a discounted ticket for the Tavern, Munroe Tavern, and the Hancock-Clarke House, all important sites to the Battle of Lexington. 
  • There is metered street parking; get more information on public lots here
  • Public restrooms are located on the lower level of the Visitor Center next door to the Tavern.
  • There is a small gift kiosk next to the admission desk.
  • The second level of the Tavern is accessible via an elevator ramp.
  • There are lots of dining options within walking distance of the Tavern- we had a great lunch at Revival. Here is a good index of options. 
  • Check here for special events and programs; families will especially be interested in weekend Hands- On History and Historic Games Day.
  • Plan on 45 minutes to fully tour the five rooms of the first level and the second floor exhibit.  Visitors can use hand held devices to listen to narrations describing the items in each room and what the room was used for.

Playing “I Spy” at Buckman’s Tavern:

  1. The original slate memorial to the soldiers from the battle. There’s also a marble replica from 1835 on the Town Green.
  2. The three handprints that will recount personal stories from people who lived at the Tavern during the battle in the Orientation Room. 
  3. The drum of William Diamond, who used the drum during the battle, in the Orientation Room.
  4. The cheese basket and the 18th century version of a laundry washing machine in the Kitchen. 
  5. The spinning wheel in the Women’s Parlor.  Also check out the 18yth century chair that Ulysses S. Grant sat in when he came to Lexington for the Centennial Celebration. 
  6. The trunk used to store important town documents in the West Room.  Also, be sure to cast your vote regarding the use of violence as a strategy to evoke societal change. 
  7. The foot stoves in the Women’s Parlor and West Room. 
  8. The bullet hole (from April 19, 1775!) in the original tavern door. 
  9. Bar tabs (written in chalk in the 1810s and still legible!)  on the wall of the Tap Room.
  10. The original tavern sign hanging in the Tap Room. 

Bonus: Be sure to check out the second floor Parades, Pageants, and Pandemonium exhibit which honors the four celebrations of April 19th (the 1875 Centennial, the 1915 Pageant, the 1925 Sesquicentennial, and the 1975 Bicentennial).  Kids will surely want to look through a stereoscope to see magnified photographs, listen to the same music that was played in the tavern on April 19th, dress up in replica costumes, and recreate the blueprint of the 1925 pageant using building blocks.  

Other historic spots to check out throughout Lexington (and adjacent Concord):

  • Flagpole, Minuteman Statue, the oldest war memorial in America, and Lexington Battle Green monument on the Town Green, the location of the first shots were fired. 
  • Ye Old Burial Ground, a short walk from the Tavern, with gravestones dating back to the 1690s.
  • Hancock- Clarke House, built for John Hancock I, and now to visitors for guided tours.
  • Munroe Tavern, built in 1735, used as a field hospital on April 19th, 1775, and later visited by George Washington when he visited in 1789. 
  • Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, free to visit, which shares the story of freemasons in the area. 
  • The Minute Man National Historic Park in nearby Concord- read our full feature here
  • This brochure offers a good index of sites and map.

Looking for other adventures in Massachusetts? Check out our full index here. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and X.

Disclosure: Our family was given a media pass to explore the Tavern, all opinions expressed are my own.

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3 Comments

  1. We’ve explored Lexington in the past but never made it to Buckman Tavern. It looks like a great spot to take the kids.

  2. I visited MA for the first time last year and can’t wait to return! Will keep this in mind for when I’m back.

  3. This looks like such a great place to visit. I am adding it to the list for my Massachusetts trip next summer!

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