Ohio Archæological and Historical Society
Publications, Volume XX
THE BUNCH OF GRA PES TAVERN. In "Old Boston Taverns" — a rare little pamphlet published in Boston in 1886 and written by Samuel Adams Drake — is an entertaining little chapter on the "Bunch of Grapes Tavern," the inn that figured so historically in the early stages of the organization of the Ohio Company of Associates. The tavern stood in King Street, now State Street, at the upper corner of Kilby Street. It was not far from the site of the Boston Massacre and in the engraving of that bloody scene by Paul Revere the balcony over the entrance to the tavern is shown on the extreme left, while the town hall is in the background. Mr. Drake states that "three gilded clusters of grapes temptingly dangled over the door before the eye of the passer-by." These bunches of grapes were of course large wooden imitations of the real clusters. He also adds that "apart from its palate-tickling suggestions, the pleasant aroma of antiquity surrounds this symbol, so dear to all devotees of Bacchus from immemorial time." Shakespeare in "Measure for Measure" has his clown say, " 'Twas in the Bunch of Grapes, 'Where indeed you have a delight to sit, have you not?" And Froth answers, "I have so, because it is an open room and good for winter." The Boston tavern thus named dates back to 1712, from which time until the Revolution it was a public inn and as such feelingly referred to by various travelers as the best "punch-house" to be found in all Boston. When the line came to be drawn between conditional loyalty and loyalty at any rate the Bunch of Grapes Tavern became the resort and headquarters of the high Whigs in which patriotism only passed current and the Royalists found cold reception. It was in this tavern, states Drake, "on Monday, July 30, 1733, that the first grand lodge of Masons in America was organized by Henry Price, a Boston tailor, who had received authority from Lord Montague, Grand Master of England, for the purpose." Upon the evacuation of Boston by the Royal troops and the entrance of the Colonists, General Washington was handsomely entertained at this tavern and later after reading the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the town hall, the populace proceeded to pull down from the public buildings the Royal arms which had distinguished them and gathered them in a heap in front of the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, made a bonfire thereof. The register of the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, if it had kept one, would show an illustrious list of guests, such as General Stark, Lafayette, and many of the Revolutionary leaders and heroes, but probably what most distinguishes it is the fact that there were held in this tavern the initial meetings of the officers and directors of the Ohio Company, their first gathering being held there March 1, 1786. In the summer just passed (1910) the Editor during a visit to Boston endeavored to find the location of the Bunch of Grapes Tavern. The site was easily discovered, but alas the surroundings were completely changed, and where the original tavern once stood is now a skyscraper business block, in the basement of which. under the very corner where stood the old tavern, is a little restaurant, perhaps twenty feet square, with a lunch-counter at the end, over which was arched the imitation of a large grapevine, from which hung many clusters of ingeniously similated grapes.