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    Hyperbole of Historic Proportion     white logo           

 By David McBride

It was a long journey back to Boston, both figuratively and literally.  I had spoken of making a return sojourn to rediscover the taverns of that great polestar of colonial history for years.  Finally, after many aborted attempts, we headed north.  Our destination was the Warren Tavern, and we arrived after a protracted and frigid December trek through a New England winter.
 
For one reason or another, after an hour or two of drink and conversation, the historical significance of the Tavern hadn’t yet entered my conscience.  But as we sat perched on our barstools, a friend of ours, and a resident of Charlestown, explained to us that he frequents this pub “so I can drink where Paul Revere drank”.  The words were like a smack across my still flushed with cold face, opening my eyes to where I was and what this place means to our nation’s history.

Photo by David McBride      
Exterior of the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, MA as seen in American Public House Review
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Legend has it the Warren Tavern was one of the first buildings to be built in Charlestown after the British Army burned the town during the Battle of Bunker Hill.  It was built by Captain Eliphelet Newell, a man who seems to have slipped into historical obscurity but may very well have been an important member of Boston’s radical patriots.  Capt. Newell decided to name his publick house after the battle’s great martyr, General Joseph Warren, who was mortally wounded on Breed’s Hill during combat.

It is perhaps a tragedy that Dr. Warren is now a somewhat unsung name in the teachings of American History.  Conventional wisdom tells us that a heroic and untimely death is often a catalyst to popular immortality, but Dr. Warren’s early demise seems to have limited his legend somewhat.  However, Capt. Newell knew what he was doing when he named his tavern after him.

Public Domain    
Joseph Warren by John Singleton Copley as seen in American Public House Review
Joseph Warren by John Singleton Copley


Born in Massachusetts, Joseph Warren was a well-educated Harvard man and a physician.  But it was the struggle for Independence that brought him his fame as an orator, military leader and patriot.  Along with friends and contemporaries like John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, Warren led Boston’s resistance to the Crown with words and actions.  He delivered two speeches following the Boston Massacre that placed him firmly in the pantheon of the great New England firebrands.  He sent Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride to Lexington and then rushed out to be among the militia who assaulted the British relentlessly during their return to Boston.

In June of 1775, Warren was appointed a Major General and volunteered for frontline service to defend Boston against certain invasion. When the British Army attacked Boston, Warren took up his musket among his fellow soldiers and refused the relative safety of a command position.  As the British pushed up Breed’s Hill for a final assault on the rebel’s position, Warren was shot through the head and killed instantly.

To Captain Newell, the citizens of Charlestown and local tavern-goers like Paul Revere, Joseph Warren deserved a fitting memorial.  And what could be more fitting than to affix his name and memory permanently to a tavern, a place where generations of Americans can come to debate and rabble-rouse in the grand tradition of the great founders and the immortal doctor himself? 

The Warren Tavern holds within its walls the spirit of this nation’s history more than nearly any museum I have ever been to.  There are no elaborate 18th century paintings on the walls, no artifacts carefully preserved and guarded behind glass. There is only the same floor Paul Revere and George Washington walked upon.  But there is a spirit within the wood, left here by giants. And most importantly, you will find the same air of camaraderie and comfort that attracted those great heroes to this hallowed place.

I understand that as a lover of great pubs, we who write for the American Public House Review can be accused of hyperbole when describing the merits of a particular watering hole.  So at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I declare the Warren Tavern should be thought of by the citizens of this nation as not only a fantastic tavern but more importantly as one of America’s truly great historic sites.



Photo by Chris Poh     
Exterior of the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, MA as seen in American Public House Review
Warren Tavern Bar and Restaurant in Charlestown, MA



Photo by Chris Poh      
Taps at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, MA as seen in American Public House Review
A nice selection of beers


Photo by Chris Poh      
The bar at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, MA as seen in American Publichopuse Review
The author (right) enjoys a congenial pint and a conversation.


Photo by David McBride     
Table at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, MA as seen in American Public House Review
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Public Domain   
The battle of Bunker Hill by John Trunbull as seen in American Public House Review
The Battle of Bunker Hill Near Boston painted by John Turnbull





Warren Tavern Bar & Restaurant 


2 Pleasant St

Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129

(617) 241-8142 ‎

www.warrentavern.com

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