The Hartwell Homestead has passed through many hands since 1636. Today the present owners, Marion Fitch and Jane Poor, conduct a famous dining place known through-out the east as the "Hartwell Farm", located on Highway 2A, between Concord and Lincoln, Mass. Quoted here are bits of historical information taken from their booklet--"Hartwell Farm".
Why did you call it Hartwell Farm? Well, we liked the name "Farm" because, as a rule, one expects to get enough to eat on a farm and it had always been a farm, so we decided not to change it.We couldn't call it the Fitch-Poor Farm or the Poor Fitch Farm, and since the Hartwells had built the house and lived here until 1785, we thought they should have credit for the fine old house. What Hartwell was that? According to the genealogy, William Hartwell came to Concord in 1635 "because Boston was too crowded" (this part of Lincoln was once Concord) There wasn't any Back Bay built up in those days;The Charles River came up to Charles Street and people had to pasture their animals somewhere; the Common was getting crowded for Boston had been settled since 1630. Then this house was here during the revolution? Yes,and it was on this road in front of the house that the British tramped when they went to Concord. In 1775, Paul Revere rode out to tell the settlers that the British were coming, but before reaching this house, Mr.Revere was startled by British soldiers and taken captive. He escaped later, but Mr. Prescott returning from Lexington,where he had been calling on a young lady, carried the message on to Concord. The story is told that Prescott rode through the fields and did not stop until he reached this house. He tapped at the back door, that one which leads out on the Terrace, and rode on. Who was living there at the time? Sergeant Samuel Hartwell, and he began at once to get ready to join the Lincoln Company. Mary Flint Hartwell, his wife, asked Sukey, their negro slave, to run down the road to Captain Smith's to warn him about the British. It was a moonlit night, and Sukey was frightened of the shadows, so Mrs. Hartwell asked Sukey to hold the baby and she would go. Mary rushed down to Capt. Smith's to warn him and returned quickly to get an early breakfast for her husband. After he left, Mrs. Hartwell and Sukey milked the cows and turned them out to pasture; then Mrs. Hartwell sat quietly at home with her children to await the return of her husband,Samuel, but Sukey dashed into the woods back of the house and was not seen until the next day--long after the battles were over. Mr. Hartwell was a gunsmith and this house was to have been burned, but when the British returned from Concord, they were in too much of a hurry to stop. One soldier put his bayonet through the front window and Mr. Hartwell found the gun when he returned, repaired it, and used it for hunting. Who was the last Hartwell to live in the house? John Hartwell, who was born in this house in 1848. Is there any book which describes in detail what happened on this road in 1775? Yes, there is a book called "Heroes of the Battle Road" written by Mr. Frank Wilson Cheney Hersey.
The following is on a panel behind the door which leads into the house:
" He who loves an old house
will never love in vain;
For how can any old house
Used to sun and rain
To lilac and to Larkspur
And arching trees above,
Fail to give its answer
To the heart that gives it's love."
(editor's note--Tragically, the Hartwell Homestead burned to the ground twelve years after this 1956 article was written.However, the gigantic brick hearth still stands, and is maintained by the National Park Service. It is located just to the east of Hartwell Tavern.)
Photo of the Lincoln Homestead, 1955