Great House

Great House (HM14WY)

Location: Boston, MA 02129 Suffolk County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 22.308', W 71° 3.707'

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Three Cranes Tavern

History and Archaeology
In the 1900s, as part of the major highway reconstruction project that built the tunnels beneath this park, a team of archaeologists studied City Square and its history.The investigators researched historic documents and conducted an archaeological dig to determine what happened in City Square's past. This research was supported by the Federal Highway Administration and the Massachusetts Department.—-

The archaeology uncovered a very important aspect of Charlestown's history beneath City Square, the Great House, which was first public building erected by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. the Great House was built as part of the Charlestown settlement in 1629 for Governor John Winthrop. As the Governor's residence and a meeting place for his Court of Assistants, the Great House was the Company's seat of government for several months during the summer of 1930. Governor Winthrop and the operations of the Massachusetts Bay company moved across the river to Boston (then called Shawmut) in October 1630. The company sold the Great House to the town in 1633.—-

The Great House was then uses as a meeting house and center of community life. It later became the Three Cranes Tavern when it was purchased by Robert Long in 1635. The Three Cranes Tavern served merchants, sailors, and craftsmen that required lodging, and provided a meeting place were ideas as well as goods could be exchanged.

The building in City Square were razed by fire during the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. The square was left as an open marketplace after the battle and the remains of the Great House/Three Cranes Tavern site were preserved beneath the ashes.—-

A Time line
The archaeologist carefully removed about four feet of fill from the surface of City Square before they hit a layer of demolition and ash. This burned layer was from 1775 when most of Charlestown was destroyed during the battle of Bunker Hill. An excellent time market, the archaeologists knew that what lay beneath and among this rubble was older than 1775.—-
What are these stones?
The stones in the lawn in front of you are the actual foundation stones of the Three Cranes Tavern that were uncovered during the archaeological dig. Post holes marking the location of the original wooden posts of the Great House structure were also found among the foundation stones. These structural elements are reused here to designate the foundation as a "trace" of the original building.—-
What the Archaeological investigation revealedIn addition to the tavern foundation, several privies were also uncovered. Privies were used as both outhouses and trash pits. The artifacts found in these privies allowed archaeologist to date the site and tell us how people lived or used the site. The privies in City Square contained important pottery, fine wine glasses, and butchered animal bones, which tell us that the occupants were wealthy colonists.As you walk around the stones, you will find yourself in the kitchen, the wine cellar, and the main hall of the tavern.

HM NumberHM14WY
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 4:29pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 330242 N 4693117
Decimal Degrees42.37180000, -71.06178333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 22.308', W 71° 3.707'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 22' 18.48" N, 71° 3' 42.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)617, 781, 857
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 3 Tobin Memorial Bridge, Boston MA 02129, US
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