Concord's Colonial Inn
From its prime location right in the heart of Concord, the Colonial Inn has gazed upon the life of the Concord community for three centuries. Spanning the time with ease, the Colonial Inn maintains a lively step as a gathering place for all occasions. The Inn was originally three separate buildings – the earliest dating back to 1716. It is best known for the role it played in the events of April 19, 1775, a day that led to the birth of a new nation.
During the period of unrest leading up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the middle portion of the Inn (which is now the front desk of the hotel and gift shop) served as an arms and provisions storehouse for the local patriots. When the British soldiers arrived to seize and destroy all their supplies, the Minutemen were gathered at the North Bridge, just a half mile from the Inn. They were alerted of the British presence by the rising smoke and came to defend both their town and supplies.
At the time of the battle, Dr. Timothy Minot Jr. lived and worked on the western side of the building, which is now home to the Liberty Restaurant. On April 19th 1775, Dr. Minot opened up his home to care for the wounded Minutemen. He used the Liberty Room as a hospital, one of his bedrooms, now “Room 24”, as an operating room and “Room 27” as the morgue.
Minot sold the eastern building to his son-in-law, Ammi White, who was notorious for having killed a wounded British soldier with a hatchet during the battle at the North Bridge. Deacon John White bought the western and central buildings from Minot. Deacon White believed in a strict adherence to the Sabbath and would keep a watchful eye on Sundays for any folks traveling unnecessarily along Lowell Road. In 1799, Ammi White sold his portion of the house to John Thoreau, grandfather of Henry David Thoreau. John Thoreau’s son, also named John, worked for Deacon White in the store next door as a youth. In 1835, the younger John moved his own family, including his sisters, back into the house to live for the next two years while his son, Henry David, attended Harvard.
In 1838, the house was sold to Daniel Shattuck, who had previously bought out Deacon White’s in 1811. He converted the store into a dwelling and deeded the property to his daughter Frances in 1861. Frances and her husband, Louis Surrette, turned the property into a 20-room boarding house. They named it the Thoreau House after Henry’s aunts, who spent their days entertaining in the sitting room. The property was then auctioned off to Judge John Keys in 1889. The Thoreau House was then renamed the Colonial Inn. The Prescott Wing, which houses the more modern guestrooms, was added in 1960.
The guest register, located in the sitting room, offers clues into the Inn’s impressive clientele. Margaret Sidney Lothrop, author of Five Little Peppers, stayed in 1908, as did J.P. Morgan. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose signature in the guest register is on display, stayed the evening of May 25, 1904. More recent guests to the Inn and restaurant include John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Arnold Palmer, Jack Canfield, Queen Noor of Jordan, Robert Duvall, Bryan ,Cranston, Sandra Day O’Connor, Joe Manganiello, Jason Sudeikis, Olivia Wilde and Don Henley.