Templeton: Former Whitney Tavern is for sale

  • The Baker family is shown outside the former Whitney Tavern after it had been converted to a home. Photo/Eames Family Collection

  • A room lined with cupboards awaits restoration at the former Whitney Tavern in Templeton. Photo/Paul Collette

  • The former Whitney Tavern — later, a home — as seen today is for sale. Photo/Paul Collette

  • A room with a fireplace at the former Whitney Tavern in Templeton awaits restoration. Photo/Paul Collette

  • A fireplace graces a room at the former Whitney Tavern in Templeton. Photo/Paul Collette

Published: 4/27/2022 2:31:39 PM
Modified: 4/27/2022 2:30:11 PM

A home in Templeton, which in the 1800s served as Whitney Tavern, is for sale. Whitney Tavern was one of several taverns at that time located in the four districts of the town, according to Brian Tanguay, president and curator of the Narragansett Historical Society stated.

The building’s story begins when it was owned by Seras Cook who, according to the “Story of Templeton” by Elizabeth Wellington Lord, “conducted the largest and most accommodating tavern to be found anywhere on the route from Brattleboro, Vermont to Boston.” In March of 1805, the tavern was sold to Joshua Tucker and renamed Tucker Tavern, sold again in 1812 to Jonathan Greenwood and four years later sold to William Whitney.

When Whitney Tavern was in business, it had several features designed to accommodate horse-drawn teams including stagecoaches. Among these features was a covered driveway capable of driving in eight four-horse teams at one time, according to Lord. There were three barns filled with hay from the tavern’s meadows available to stable up to 200 horses, the history stated. The tavern had a spring-fed watering trough for the horses on the side off the road hewn out of a pine log, later replaced by an iron tub. When Route 2 was built, this water source was discontinued and the property owners received a rebate on their taxes for loss of the water supply, Lord’s history stated.

The second floor of the tavern provided a dance hall with a single fiddler playing popular songs of the day as well as requests, the history recorded. Meals were served from the kitchen using a fireplace and spit. Pies were available at every meal and, according to the history, it was recorded the landlady made 50 pies every day.

Among those who visited the tavern, according to Lord’s history, were sharpshooters of District Narragansett #6, who gathered at the town for a muster. As the sharpshooters at the time used muzzle loaders, each man filled his powder horn from the keg which stood opened on its end. “It was well into the afternoon,” the history stated, “and the sharpshooters were fairly well intoxicated. One of them came to fill his powder horn from the keg, quite forgetting the pipe in his mouth. As he leaned over, a spark dropped from the pipe into the keg, with the result that one side of the bar room was entirely blown out. Nobody was killed but many were badly hurt. It cost $500 to repair the damage.”

In 1830, according to the history, the Tavern was remodeled and half of the building was moved a quarter of a mile up the road by oxen and rollers. “The remaining part of the tavern was made into a house and has been owned by the Baker family for many years,” according to Lord’s history.

“Ruth Baker married Harold Eames, who lived there next, then their son, Warren Eames,” Tanguay said. Along the Route 101 side of the property, before the Eames sold off a few lots, Tanguay said, there was a picnic area called the Pines used for clam bakes and hosting huge gatherings. It was also a place for movies and hosted dances with live music. Baker’s Grove, also on the property, had a grass badminton court, and a baseball field, according to Tanguay.

“The Whitneys, Bakers, and Eames families preserved hundreds of documents and photographs, and the last of the family line, the grandchildren of Warren Eames, all agreed to donate the many items and documents to the Historical Society for safe keeping and to share the history of this great home. Some items are on display, with most stored in our Archive room and will eventually be used to create new displays for our visitors,” Tanguay said.

According to Realtor Paul Collette, of Keller Williams Realty, the listing agent for the home, “It (the building) needs a lot of work. It could be beautiful. There’s a lot of potential there. The building has a lot of its original woodwork and trim from the 1800s as well as mantles and fireplaces. There is original framing and dates written on the beam in the cellar, which are believed to possibly be the dates of renovations.” The cost of the former Whitney Tavern with 15.64 acres of land is $249,900. “The Historical Society is looking forward to see the Tavern restored and used as a family home once again,” Tanguay stated.

The Narragansett Historical Society is open every Tuesday night from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning April 26. In May, the society will begin to be opened on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information on the Whitney Inn building, Collette can be reached at paulcollette@kw.com.

Carla Charter is a freelance writer from Phillipston. Her writing focuses on history with a particular interest in the history of the North Quabbin area. Contact her at cjfreelancewriter@earthlink.net.

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