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Travel Back in Time: Paul Revere's Copper Mill

Travel back in time with the Wednesday Patch Passport to discover the history of Canton. Take a look at one of the many historical sites in town.

American Revolutionary hero is probably best known for his "Midnight Ride," in April 1775, during which he rode through several towns in Middlesex county–just northwest of Boston–on horseback, warning American patriots, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" Now what Revere actually said during that fateful ride before the battles of Lexington and Concord has been subject to debate. But one thing about Revere that is indisputable: Canton is full of Revere history.

"Revere was very fond of Canton and very fond of the people here," local historian, George T. Comeau, who is also a curator for the , said.

Born and raised in Canton, Comeau said he has been fascinated with Revere since grade school.

"I was failing American History when I became turned on to local history," he said. Comeau said learning about the history of Revere in his own hometown changed things.

Comeau said Revere, already an adept silversmith, was 65-years-old when he decided to start a whole new industry in America: producing copper plating. In 1801, he opened up the very first copper mill in the country, called Revere Copper, right here in Canton. Revere Copper sits on the site of the now defunct off of Neponset Street, at 104 Revere Street, according to the Canton Historical Society.

Revere's enterprise helped move early America away from its dependence on England for copper plating, which became a key material for shipbuilding, according to Comeau.

"England had an embargo on the copper plating market," the curator said. "(Revere) basically took his entire fortune to build here. It was so important to him that he moved his entire family to Canton."

What has struck him most about Revere was that he was a risk taker and a consummate entrepreneur, Comeau stated.

"Revere's not just some guy on a horse yelling, 'The British are coming,'" he said. "He's a huge player in our history."

Today, many of Revere's descendants are still in Massachusetts, according to the historian. He's spoken to many of them and even held in his hands an original engraving by Revere of the Boston Massacre. The work has since been bequeathed to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston by distant relative Anna Revere before she died in the 1980s.

"What I've been able to see, touch, and learn has helped me discover who I am," the Canton native said. 

To learn more about Revere's footprint on Canton history, visit the at 1400 Washington Street. Call 781-828-0073 for hours.

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