Save Our Heritage

Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,

the cradle of the Environmental Movement,

and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance

An Overview of the Events and Site

The Event

“Four companies of British Regulars marched to Colonel Barrett’s house and mill, which Tories had reported to hold a great store of munitions….Only a few weeks earlier, the property, had indeed been an important arsenal.  But since April 7, when Paul Revere carried his first warning to Concord, the town had been hard at work, moving military supplies to safety….At the last minute, Colonel Barrett’s sons plowed a field on his farm, planted weapons in the fresh furrows, and covered them over again.  The British soldiers passed by without a second thought, little suspecting the crop that had been sown there….The British troops took their time at Barrett’s house.  After the long night march they were tired and hungry, and several demanded breakfast from Mrs. Barrett.  She gave them food and drink, saying coldly, ‘We are commanded to feed our enemy if he hunger.’ They offered to pay.  When she refused, the soldiers tossed a few shillings into her lap.  She told them, ‘This is the price of blood.’”
From Paul Revere’s Ride, by David Hackett Fisher

Barrett’s Farm:  April 19, 1775

Colonel James Barrett was the senior officer and overall field commander at the North Bridge in the first battle of the American Revolution.  British Regulars marched to Concord on April 19, 1775, to seize weapons and other military supplies stored throughout the town, including a major stockpile on Colonel Barrett's property.  The townspeople, however, had received advance warning of the British plan.  So the soldiers who reached Barrett’s Farm that morning found neither the weapons, which had been moved or hidden, nor Colonel Barrett, who was leading the colonial forces as they prepared to engage the Redcoats at the North Bridge.

General Gage's Draft Orders

How much those cannon weighed on Gen. Gage as he made his plans is speculative, of course. But when he listed what Lt.-Col. Francis Smith's column should look for, the first items were Four Brass Cannon and two Mortars or Cohorns in the Cellar or out Houses of Mr. Barrett a little on the other side the Bridge.

Barrett’s Farm Today

Barrett’s Farm – the historic Colonel James Barrett House and the land surrounding it – is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a site of national significance.  It was the most important, unrestored Revolutionary War land-mark in Massachusetts, and perhaps anywhere.  In addition, it has been farmed continuously from colonial times to the present, is one of the last remaining working farms in Concord , and has been owned by only two families – the Barretts and the McGraths – in its entire history.

As with many privately owned colonial-era structures, time had taken a severe toll on the Barrett House.  There was also the danger of inappropriate development that could seriously impair the site’s historic value.  We took the opportunity to permanently preserve this extraordinary resource for future generations.

The Project to Save Barrett’s Farm

Save Our Heritage lead the effort, in cooperation with the Town of Concord, Minute Man National Historical Park, and the McGrath family, to restore and then transfer the property to the National Park Service.  The project started in late 2003 and culminated with the transfer to the Park in Fall 2012.

Our Vision

It is because of Barrett’s Farm that the first battle of the American Revolution took place at the North Bridge in Concord on April 19, 1775 .  The weapons and munitions stored at Barrett’s Farm were a key target of the British expedition.  British troops guarded the North Bridge to enable the safe return of the three companies that had gone to Barrett’s Farm, the farthest point of the British advance.  It was Colonel Barrett who commanded the colonial militia that confronted the British line, wounded half the officers, and forced the Regulars to retreat.  Thus, Barrett’s Farm is a direct, living, tangible link to the beginning of our nation. 

Concord was a farm town in colonial times – as Emerson wrote, it was “the embattled farmers” who stood at the North Bridge and “fired the shot heard round the world.”  A key aspect of this project is preserving the land surrounding and across the street from the Barrett House as a working farm.  This will enable visitors to the Barrett Farm Unit of Minute Man National Historical Park to experience the site very much as it was in 1775.

“Historic sites where great events took place have the power to evoke the ghosts and echoes of our inexpressibly wise past.  Barrett’s Farm is such a place.  Please join me in supporting the effort to save Barrett’s Farm, so that it can take its rightful place with other Concord landmarks in telling the story of the first day of the American Revolution."

Ken Burns
Director, Producer, Historical Documentarian

"If there's hallowed ground in this country, it's right there in Concord and Lexington." 

David McCullough

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of John Adams and other works Host, The American Experience


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