The Great House/ Three Cranes Tavern, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1629-1775


Archaeologists working on Boston’s Big Dig in 1985, excavated the site of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first house- Winthrop’s Great House. Built by workers from nearby Salem a year before the Governor arrived and abandoned within months of his arrival, it then served as Cambridge’s first meetinghouse and eventually an important colonial tavern. The building, its ourhouses, barn and stable were all destroyed in 1775 as the British to bomb the Patriots out of existence.

The building was identified as hall and parlor style built in the post-in-ground (earthfast) tradition. The original excavators did an admirable job in trying to decipher the meanings of the stains, rock, and brick concentrations, but I think that it was slightly different in form than what they identified. I also think that they found the brewhouse associated with the tavern, but just didn’t know it! I wrote the following reanalysis in the winter of 2015-2016 just because I didn’t have anything else to do.

Great House/ Three Cranes Tavern Report

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