A Look at Doty's Tavern
How an old homestead in Canton made history.
In Canton, near the Milton border on Route 138 at the foot of the Great Blue Hills, there once stood a tavern that told the story of America's beginnings.
Doty's Tavern played a vital role in the drafting of the Suffolk Resolves—the precursor of the Declaration of Independence.
Historians describe the old homestead as a place were America's early revolutionaries met on the morning of August 16, 1774—out of sight of the British—to hash out their plans to free the country from the British government. General Joseph Warren drafted the Resolves and the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia passed them the following month.
Doty's Tavern was named after its owner Col. Thomas Doty. According to historical documents at the Canton Historical Society, Col. Doty and his wife, Abigail each owned one undivided half of the homestead.
Famous guests included French General Marquis de Lafayette, who stayed at the tavern during his journey from Newport, R.I., to Boston. According to late historian D.T.V. Huntoon, upon Lafayette's departure the following morning, townspeople assembled in the road to wish him well.
Over 200 years ago, this month, the tavern burned down—in 1888.
Paul Revere's direct descendent, William Revere took a picture of Doty's Tavern a year before the fire. If he hadn't we may never have known what the old homestead actually looked like.
"It was a haven for patriots at that time," Jim Roache, a historian at the Canton Historical Society, said.
When the tavern caught fire, firefighters had to get their water from a well to try to put out the fire. Roache recounted the story passed down to him by former president of the historical society Ed Bolster, who Roache said heard the story directly from a man who was a firefighter that night.
"The alarm rang," Roache said. "But there was no water down there [near the tavern]. The only thing they could rely on was the well."
But the well didn't have a lot of water, he said. Without water, the tavern burned down to the ground.
Few artifacts were salvaged—a table from the kitchen, some utensils and containers of rum, according to Roache. An original shingle from the tavern recently sold on eBay for more than $28,000 to the non-profit Friends of Prowse Farm in Canton.
On the grounds of what used to be Doty's Tavern now stands Trinity Episcopal Church.
Perhaps what once stood there can be imagined more clearly through the eyes of D.T.V. Huntoon, who actually saw the tavern and described it this way. "It strikes one as a house that has a history; its quaint old gambrel roof, through the middle of which rises a chimney of huge proportions, carries one back to times long past—to its better days; and we would fain listen to the stories it might tell, could it speak."
To see pictures of Doty's Tavern, including a diorama of the homestead, visit the Canton Historical Society at 1400 Washington Street in Canton.