Noise in the Night

It was midnight when Paul Revere arrived at his actual destination on the night of his famous ride: the home of Lexington’s clergyman Jonas Clark. In the house, a short distance from the town’s Common, Colonial rabblerousers John Hancock and Samuel Adams were hiding out, and had been for over a week. Revere (and other riders) had been sent by Colonial leader Dr. Joseph Warren to warn them of oncoming British, and the likelihood of their arrest. Revere knew exactly where to go that night as he had run the route a week earlier.

John Hancock was related by marriage to Jonas Clark. This was originally his grandfather’s house, built in 1738, and he lived briefly in the house as a boy. On the night of April 18-19, 1775, it was a very full house. The Clarks had at least eight of their twelve children still living with them, and Hancock had brought his fiance as well as his aunt with him. With Samuel Adams, that made fourteen residents in all.

Arriving in haste from his hour-long ride, he came upon Sergeant William Munroe and about a dozen other Lexington militiamen, who were guarding the house. Munroe didn’t know Revere and when Revere called out, he was ordered to quiet down, because everyone in the house was trying to sleep!

“Noise!” Paul Revere exclaimed, “You’ll have noise enough before long. The Regulars [British] are coming out!”

Revere hustled by Munroe and pounded on the door, causing many windows to open and many heads to look down upon on him. One was Hancock, who recognized Revere and called, “Come in, Revere! We’re not afraid of you.”

Soon after William Dawes arrived, bringing the same news from a different direction. He, too, was sent by Dr. Warren by the land route through Boston, Roxbury, Brookline and Cambridge. Adams, Hancock, Clark, Dawes and Revere then walked down the street to Munroe Tavern, on the Common, to find “refreshment” for themselves and their horses. Some Lexington militia had been staying there for the night. In the tavern, the group considered the intentions of the British. With so many more soldiers marching than expected, perhaps they were marching not only to arrest Hancock and Adams. Maybe they were marching on to Concord to seize the large amount of weapons and ammunition the colonists had stored there! Knowing that Concord needed to be warned, Paul Revere and William Dawes then took on another mission and together rode off to Concord.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock escaped arrest and harm by hustling off to Woburn later that night following a second visit from Paul Revere after he escaped capture. (More about that later.)

In 1896, the Hancock Clark Parsonage itself escaped a dangerous fate: demolition. Instead, the house was bought by the Lexington Historical Commission and moved across the street. Later it was moved back to its original location.

From where I drew, directly across the street was another relocated house. This one, built in the mid 1800s, was recently renovated and was at some point moved from near the Battle Green. I sat by the “For Sale,” sign which reassured me that I had selected a million-dollar view. The asking price for the house: $1,150,000.

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