Buckman Tavern is a historic meeting house located at 1 Bedford Street in Lexington, Massachusetts (about 14 miles northwest of Boston). The tavern is located across from the Lexington Battle Green, also known as the Lexington Common National Historic Site. Several dozen members of the Lexington militia met in the Tavern in the early morning hours of April 19, 1775, after Paul Revere famously rode West from Boston to announce the impending arrival of the British soldiers. The tavern is featured in the background of many famous illustrations of the early confrontation.
Buckman Tavern is a large, yellow-colored
house located on Lexington Green. It was
built in 1690 by Benjamin Muzzey and handed down to his son, who transferred
ownership to his own daughter. Benjamin
Muzzey’s granddaughter married John Buckman, and together they ran the tavern
during the time when the American patriots were readying themselves for battle
against the British soldiers who were occupying the city. The members of the Lexington Minuteman
Company (of which John Buckman himself was a member) would have their meetings
in the Tavern and train on the Lexington Green.
In the early morning hours of
April 19, 1775, several dozen militiamen gathered in the tavern to wait for the
approach of the British troops. They
knew that the British soldiers were traveling from Boston towards Concord, MA
and therefore would have to march through Lexington. They were ready for them. Two dozen men arranged themselves in two
straight lines on the Lexington Green and prepared for battle. Upon the British troops’ arrival, a signal
shot was heard. One theory claims that
the first shot (possibly the “shot heard ‘round the world”) was fired from the
inside the historic tavern. Of course, there are many theories, including
one that the “shot heard ‘round the world” as it was written in Ralph Waldo
Emerson’s historic poem, was actually the first shot fired in Concord on North
Bridge. Either way, shots were fired on
Lexington Green that morning. The
Lexington militia suffered eight casualties and ten more men were wounded. The British army only recorded one wounded
soldier and no deaths.
The Tavern stands in essentially
the same condition as it did in 1775.
There was some remodeling done at the property between 1690 and
1775. By 1913, the Town of Lexington had
already acquired nearby historic sites:
the Hancock-Clarke House and the Munroe Tavern. With the addition of the Buckman Tavern, they
added to the triangular historic area around Battle Green. The Lexington Historical Society was given
the task of furnishing the building and making in available to the community for
public viewing. Buckman Tavern was added
to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Nearly two hundred years after the historic
battle, in 1973, the structure underwent extensive rehabilitation. The renovations did not change the way that
the structure appeared. Today, Buckman
Tavern is maintained by the Lexington Historical Society as a historic house
museum and is open daily for self-guided tours. It also serves as headquarters
for the Lexington Minute Men, Inc., an organization that perpetuates the
traditions of Captain Parker's company.