Why Massachusetts Is One of the Best Destinations for Historical Sites
Historical Attractions and Locations, Massachusetts,
Being one of the 13 original colonies, is rich in history and displays its heritage with pride wherever you look. A crucial location during the American Revolution, present day Massachusetts is without question one of the world’s premier locations for fascinating historical sites and attractions – making a stop in the state an essential addition to any . To help you discover what’s on offer, take a look at our below guide, highlighting some of what’s available.
Why Massachusetts is such a popular historical destination
Before we get into the specifics of what’s on offer, we spoke to Rebecca Brooks of the informative , to help whet the appetite and explain the state’s great historical appeal:
“Massachusetts is a popular destination for history buffs because it is the birthplace of so many firsts in American history. Massachusetts is the birthplace of the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the first Thanksgiving, the first colony in New England and so much more. The history of the state spans 400 years so there's something for every history fan to explore.
“The historical locations I would recommend most would be Boston, Salem and Plymouth because they are the home of so many of the state's historical firsts and have many historical sites, buildings and historical house museums where you can experience this history first-hand.”
America is a country born from adventure and determination. As such, Plymouth Rock – where the pilgrims initially landed – is an important location regarding the nation’s story. To tell us a little more about Plymouth Rock and its history, (the online home to a wealth of valuable information on the area) shared with us the following:
“Plymouth Rock is the traditional landing place of the Pilgrims in 1620. It is an enduring symbol of the Pilgrims’ arrival to the New World and the Pilgrim story of faith and courage that gave birth to our country’s rich heritage of freedom and fortitude. It is especially important now as the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Landing occurs in 2020!
“In 1741 Elder Thomas Faunce stated that this is the rock that was used as a stepping stone by the Pilgrims when they disembarked from the ship’s boat that tendered them from the Mayflower. The Rock has taken a beating this past 400 years; moved three times, took a rather nasty tumble off a cart and split in half (for the second time) and chipped away at for years for souvenirs.”
Plymouth Rock isn’t all that this area has to offer in terms of history, there is in fact plenty more to see, as Destination Plymouth County explain:
“Also, here in America’s Hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts we have the very popular, especially with school children, (a re-creation of Plymouth’s first street, Leyden Street where the first Pilgrim families lived, and the Wampanoag home site), includes some original artefacts from the Mayflower (Mayflower II is currently under repair, but should be back here in our harbour for our huge 2020 Celebration), and the , which was featured in ‘Monumental’ with Kirk Cameron.”
Veterans War Memorial
Found on Massachusetts’ highest point, the is a special location for a number of reasons. Standing at 93 foot tall, this eye-catching tower acts in commemoration of the country’s troops and overlooks the historic town of Adams, MA, where Susan B Anthony, the person featured on the US silver dollar, was born. We spoke to the who told us more about this special location:
“The War Memorial Tower is situated on Mount Greylock, the highest part of the Commonwealth, in the heart of the Berkshires, so the main touristic and geographical feature is the impressive mountain and the beautiful surrounding area. The current War Memorial tower is the third tower on this site. Prior to the building of the war memorial, Mt Greylock was among the places visited by the famous Henry David Thoreau.
“Being situated on the highest point in Massachusetts, means the site has fantastic views. Massachusetts and the City of Boston argued over where a WWI memorial should be sited, and what form it should take. But rather than have a main WWI memorial in the capital city Boston, the authorities settled for one on Mt Greylock. It was important enough though for the then President of the US to be at its inauguration, and it was one of the first live broadcasts of such an event.”
USS Constitution Museum and USS Constitution ship
Mary Lhowe, the editor of , the ultimate information resource for the area, was kind enough to offer us her top suggestions for historical sites in Massachusetts, with her number one pick being the USS Constitution Museum and USS Constitution ship in Charlestown:
“ serves as the memory and educational voice of the USS Constitution, ‘Old Ironsides’, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The museum houses the ship's logs, weapons, charts, journals, arts, and more. Visitors can fire a cannon, swing in a hammock, or command the USS Constitution in battle using a computer.”
Minute Man National Historical Park
Next up from Mary and Visit New England is the in Lexington:
“On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began at Lexington and Concord with a clash of arms known as ‘the shot heard round the world.’ At Minute Man National Historical Park, visitors re-live the opening battle of the American Revolution at the battlefields and through exhibits. The park is 22 miles from Boston within the towns of Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord. The National Park Service produces excellent displays and visitor information.”
Salem Witch Museum
Mary also recommends visitors stop by the , north of Boston.
“The Salem witch hunts and witch trials of 1692 lasted less than a year, but the terrifying phenomenon of group panic has a lasting hold on our imaginations. At the Salem Witch Museum, visitors are given a dramatic history lesson using stage sets with life-size figures, lighting and narration. On the lighter side, Salem is fun to visit in October, when dozens of light-hearted, Halloween-themed entertainments are offered for visitors.”
Freedom Trail and Boston Common
To truly get a sense of all that the historic city of Boston has to offer, visitors should be sure to embark upon a self-guided or group tour of the . The Freedom Trail Foundation (who have a number of tours available) spoke to us about what this history-rich route contains:
“Walk the Freedom Trail and experience over 250 years of history! Established in 1951, Boston's iconic Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile red line on city sidewalks leading to 16 nationally significant historic sites – a unique collection of authentic treasures, including museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond.”
The trail incudes the most important landmarks and locations of the Revolutionary War. Highlights include Boston Common (established in 1634) where the British made camp during the 1775 occupation, and the statue of Benjamin Franklin outside the historic Boston Latin School which Franklin attended along with four other signatories of the Declaration of Independence.
Boston Common is cared and advocated for by , who have this to say about this historic spot:
“From Colonial times to the present day, the Common has been at the centre stage of American history. It has witnessed executions, sermons, protests, and celebrations, and it has hosted famous visitors from Generals Washington and Lafayette to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II.
“Today, the Common is the scene of sports, protests, and events large and small. Yet for all its adaptation to modern life, the Common remains a green retreat remindful of its storied past.”
The House of the Seven Gables
Image credit: Frank C. Grace
was built in 1668 and is today one of the oldest timber frame houses in the continental United States. Situated in Salem, the home is open to visitors as a museum with gardens, tours and a shop. Daniel Marshall, Manager of Visitor Services at the house, spoke to us about this intriguing historical location:
“The home is a 17th century sea captain’s mansion celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2018. It also served as literary inspiration for the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne as he wrote his 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. Our museum founder, Caroline Emmerton, restored and opened the house to the public for tours in 1910 to help fund her Settlement House community and charity programs, which are still going strong after over 100 years.
“With centuries of threads to draw upon, The House of the Seven Gables weaves a fascinating tapestry of social, maritime and literary history. From the maritime merchant families and their servants and slaves who lived and laboured here, to the literary connections with Hawthorne, to the museum’s founding to support Caroline Emmerton’s Settlement House programs, guests will experience 350 years of stories.
“A visit to our National Historic Landmark District includes a guided tour of the House of the Seven Gables mansion, self-guided exploration of Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace, a stop in our unique museum store and access to our beautiful seaside Colonial Revival gardens and grounds.”
Image credit: Tim Grafft
One of the more picturesque homes you are likely to come across, is the historic home of beloved author Edith Wharton. Built in 1902, The Mount, in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, is a National Historic Landmark and cultural centre celebrating Wharton’s work and legacy as both an artist and humanitarian.
The Mount spoke to us about what’s on offer for visitors: “A day at The Mount is an opportunity to experience the beauty and splendour of Edith Wharton’s beloved country estate. There is so much to do! To tell the stories of The Mount we offer tours of the house and gardens, a Backstairs Tour, and our popular Ghost Tour.
“While at The Mount, consider a private tour of Edith Wharton’s personal 2,700-volume library. Replete with personal notes, inscriptions, and markings in the acclaimed author’s own hand, these books provide a rare and wonderful glimpse into what Wharton was thinking, and feeling, over 100 years ago.”
The premises are fully open, with visitors invited to interact with the rooms. The Mount is also home to a series of dramatic readings, lectures, music, and workshops.
Old State House
The was built in 1713 and more than three centuries later is the oldest surviving structure in the city of Boston. The revolution is said to have been born right here, where men like John Adams and John Hancock debated the ideas of self-government that would help build a nation. It was at the Old State House that the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston in 1776, starting a chain of events that would change the world. Fascinating artefacts and educational tours help to enhance a must visit Bostonian location.
Old South Meeting House
Built in 1729, this is yet another important building pertaining to the American Revolution. , a church, is the site where the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was born out of discussion. It was here where more than 5,000 residents gathered together in protest of the taxation without representation forced upon them by Britain. Open to the public daily as both a historic site and museum, this is a stop on the Freedom Trail that is well worth singling out.
George Washington Statue
Founding father George Washington is a much revered figure in the United States and the statue in his honour among the flora of Beacon Hill’s public garden is a testament to his redoubtable nature. Not only was Washington the country’s first president, he was a General fighting for the colonies against the British Empire. It was a war that America shouldn’t have been able to win but thanks to an unbreakable spirit and men like George Washington, they managed to find a way.
History and Massachusetts
Before we depart, we would like to bring you a few words from the , a tremendously helpful resource, offering information on all that one needs to know about this great state. They told us just why Massachusetts is one of the world's best destinations for Historical sites:
“Massachusetts is home to some of the most important episodes of American history,” said Francois L. Nivaud, Executive Director, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. “Heritage and culture stretch across the Commonwealth, from the mountains of the Berkshires to the harbors that dot our coastline, Massachusetts is the birthplace of presidents and revolutions.”