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What’s The Historical Value Of A House?

March 2023
1min read

No one knows whether it was a British regular or a minuteman who broke the morning stillness at Lexington with the “shot heard ‘round the world” (also heard by Paul Revere). If it was a minuteman, the chances are excellent that the gun, ball, and powder he used had at one time or another been hidden in the house above, situated on a farm some two miles from Concord’s North Bridge. Built in 1705, at the time of the Revolution the house was in the possession of Colonel James Barrett, commander of the Concord militia, and for some time prior to the Lexington affair it had been used as a virtual armory for colonial rebels. As a major British move became more and more likely in the spring of 1775, much of the arms and ammunition was taken deeper into the countryside, but a good deal was still here on the morning of April 19.

The house has survived, largely unchanged since that April day. However, it is in desperate need of major repairs, which the present owners cannot afford to have done, and it is problematical that any official agency will take on the cost. Although it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the house was considered too far from the North Bridge to be included in Minuteman National Historical Park, and so far nothing has been done locally to preserve the place. According to Myrna D. Masse, who brought the problem to our attention, “The attitude of Concordians toward saving the landmark is a statement of traditional Yankee philosophy: the people of Concord do not believe in investing public funds in privately owned property. This effectively prohibits the town government from organizing a plan to save the building. It also prevents the securing of matching funds from state and federal sources.” So the house sits, officially neglected and all but unknown—although we trust that most of the people of Concord do not share the view expressed by a member of one of its historical bodies: “What’s the historical value of a house?”

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