November 11, 2013

Tate House gets preservation boost of presidential proportions

Re-enactor George Baker will portray John Adams, the nation’s second president, at a fundraiser Saturday.

By Deborah Sayer
News Assistant

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Visitors participate in a recent cemetery walk sponsored by Tate House Museum. The tour featured eight specters from the city’s past who talked about life in the 1700s. Among the specters was Mary Tate, the family matriarch.

Photos courtesy Nancy Ladd

The home, a National Historic Landmark, is part of a complex that includes the 1797 Means House, across the street, which serves as an office, gift shop, meeting space and reception venue. Since 2005, the complex has been managed by Tate House Museum, Inc.

Gift shop manager and docent Joan Hatch said that part of the challenge of keeping the house in the public eye is coming up with activities and programs that draw people away from more conveniently located downtown venues.

“We are not downtown and in close proximity to places like (the Longfellow House). People have to make an effort to get to us,” said Hatch.

In more recent times, Hatch and other docent volunteers have been overseeing events such as a recent fall spirit walk through the cemetery where the Tate family and other area residents are interred.

A recent fundraiser walk, held during the Halloween season, featured the likenesses of some of the area’s more notable historic figures, dressed in black and appearing by their headstones in the cemetery to provide a short historical narrative about their life.

The characters included a local tavern owner, the president of the local women’s temperance union and Mary Tate – matriach of the Tate family, who was accidentally killed by a trap set to stop thieves from raiding the family supply room. Mary was killed when a handgun, rigged to a tripwire, went off when she opened the ell door.

The tour raised $1,100 toward the general operating budget.

Both Ladd and Hatch agreed that the future of Tate House lies not in merely reaching out to visiting tourists but in reminding residents the historic landmark is here.

Another recent boost came when the Tate House’s history was published in a book listing historic area landmarks.

That book is now being used in all grade 3 classrooms, making the house known to elementary school children.

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Tate House office at 774-6177 or by emailing

Refreshments of the colonial era will be served.


Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at:

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