Taverns on the 1830 Hales Map

8. Taverns on the 1830 Hales Map

The Middlesex Hotel enjoyed a thriving business in the 1820s and 1830s, despite the fact that it had some competition in Concord. The 1830 Hales map - published by Lemuel Shattuck and included in his 1835 history of Concord - shows three taverns in close proximity to one another - the Middlesex Hotel (prominently labeled "Hotel" in the upper right corner of the detail shown here), Bigelow's Tavern behind the South, or Main Street, Burying Ground (labeled simply "H. Bigelow"), and Shepherd's on Main Street (labeled "Sheperd's [sic] Hotel"), opposite the present Concord Free Public Library site. In his Traditions and Reminiscences of Concord, Edward Jarvis highlighted the differences between the three establishments.

While Jarvis saw the Middlesex Hotel as "more a town tavern than the others," he found Hartwell Bigelow's place "the home of teamsters, people who were contented with a coarser fare, and at a lesser cost. But it had a larger bar custom than either of the others. It was more the resort of those who were in the habit of drinking spirit and especially of those who were given to frequent indulgence and even intoxication."

In contrast, Shepherd's "was the resort of more wealthy or genteel travellers. It was the stage tavern, where the passengers from Boston going to the country had breakfast. This was in my early day, the place for the more cultivated assemblages, for the dancing schools, balls, &c. The whole style of the house & management was more refined than that of the others & of course more costly to the customer. It was more quiet although there was a bar & liquor was offered to such as wanted it. Yet these were mainly travellers and very few townspeople went there to drink."