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WILLIAMS TAVERN ~

Story to be added

Picture taken about 1890
Marlborough Historical Society Picture

The site upon which this old Tavern stands has been covered by a public house for nearly 250 years, and most of the time has been owned by the Williams family. The old house above played a prominent part years ago in the history of the Town. Lieutenant Abraham Williams was admitted freeman in Marlborough. 1652. Ten years later, putting up a building on the site above, he announced his intention to feed man and beast. As a travellers retreat, it was well patronized until 1676 when the memorable Indian raid was made, resulting in the killing of men and women, the capture of children and general burning of the buildings, this primitive house included. With undaunted spunk Lieut. Williams, the very next year built a more pretentious structure, placing upon it this sign "Williams Tavern " which swung out for 150 years. The successive proprietors of the Tavern were Colonel Abraham Williams and his son, Captain George Williams, the latter occupying the premises up to 1818 when he died.  In 1711 Marlborough's territory included Northborough, Southborough, Westborough and Hudson. This Tavern was situated on the "Post Road" from Boston to Worcester and was one of the three places on the trip where horses were changed.

Williams Tavern was the scene of countless interesting incidents. In early days the big front room served as a court room, and many a case has the old circuit court tried in that low studded, square room which has served for a great variety of purposes. Duke de la Rochefoucauld stopped here, and the following is a tribute to Capt. Williams family when he wrote, "Although excessively ill, I was sensible of my dreadful situation, being laid there on a bed of sickness, among  people who had never seen me before, and this idea threw me into great agitation of mind which bordered on despair. But, fortunately, the family at whose house I had stopped were the best people in the world. Both men and women took as much care of me as if I had been their own child. I must repeat it once more, that I cannot bestow too much praise on the kindness of this excellent people. Being a stranger, utterly unacquainted with them, sick, and appearing in the garb of mediocrity, bordering on indigence, I possessed not the least claim on the hospitality of this respectable family, but such as their own kindness and humanity could suggest. And yet during the five days I continued in their house, they neglected their own business to nurse me with the tenderest care and with unwearied solicitude. They heightened still more the generosity of their conduct by making up their account in a manner so extremely reasonable that three times the amount would not have been too- much for the trouble I had caused them. "

One of the most notable days in the history of the house was October 23, 1789, when President George Washington while on his way to Boston tarried here for several hours and took dinner with some of the local functionaries. The President was escorted by Capt. Rice's company of horse, well mounted and in complete uniform, who awaited him on Sandy Hill, just after crossing .Stirrup Brook, near the William Bartlett house. They took him to Capt. Williams' Tavern where he was met by two of Governor Hancock's aides who came from Boston to assist in escort duty. Wall writes that he was met by the United States Marshal of Massachusetts District, Jonathan Jackson, with whom he dined. In every place through which Washington passed in his tour through New England after his first inauguration as President of the United States, the inhabitants of all ranks, ages and conditions, who delighted to honor their revered Chief Magistrate, testified their joy at the opportunity to behold the political savior of their country, and Marlborough at this time was full of enthusiasm.

The writer of these sketches is now the possessor of the old parlor table from Williams Tavern from which at that time "The Father of Our Country" dined." Also the Masonic bowl, pitcher and mug used at this noted old Tavern in ye olden times.

Note: The picture at left was taken from the Ella Bigelow book who was one of the "writers of these sketches"
 

Colonel Abraham Williams died in this Tavern at 90 years of age. His grandfather of the same name died in the same place aged 84. His great grandson, Captain George Williams, died in same place aged 76. After the death of Captain George Williams, who succeeded his father, Colonel Abraham Williams, as proprietor, the Tavern was managed by Silas Gates, son-in-law of Captain George Williams, who remained here until 1823. The house was then called the "Gates House. "

The old Tavern reached its highest prosperity under the management of Silas Gates.   The 1835 map section to the left shows the "Gates Hotel" and Williams Pond.  The Gates Hotel was Williams Tavern.  The Tavern was located on property now occupied by a plaza at the corner of Williams St. and Gleason St..

Note: The "star" indicates location of the Hotel.

To be continued...........



 
 

These next three pictures are from Paul Polewacyk's Collection

Picture taken about 1900

Picture of the Ball Room about 1900

Picture of the Tavern as it burned

 
 

Picture taken about 1920
Marlborough Historical Society Picture

 

Picture taken about 1945
Marlborough Historical Society Picture

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