Now and Then - Dudley Corner - Southeast
Gen Washington bypasses Ammidon Tavern
Dudley Corner - Southwest
Dudley Corner - Northeast
Dudley Corner - Northwest
Mendon Antique Center, at 4 Main Street, with its old wooden tables, time worn chairs, books,
and much used farm tools, holds many secrets and treasures from the past. Browsing on a
leisurely Sunday, autumn afternoon, a visit reveals a casual lawn display of furniture, post
cards, wooden boxes, and magazines. More household items from years gone by are on
display in the barn and in the former inn. The owner, David Lowell, is usually chatting with
customers and old friends about antiques and news around town. Customers are welcome to
browse and discover treasured items that could tell stories of years gone by and happenings
Ichabod Ammidon opened the inn in 1745, just a few hundred yards south of Middle Post
Road. The road was a major transportation route connecting New York, Hartford, and Boston.
It was constructed in 1672, per order of King Charles II for mail delivery. It is the oldest
interstate highway in North America. There is a stone marker diagonally across the street from
Clough School designating its location. Ammidon Inn provided overnight rest for weary
travelers. They could get a hot meal, exchange news stories, mail a letter, and replenish
supplies for the next part of their journey. During the Colonial Period, the inn was a very
Ammidon Inn served as a center of activity during the American Revolution. In response to the
alarm of Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, one hundred sixty - four Mendon
minutemen gathered here and assembled across the street before marching on to Boston.
After the brutal Battle of Bunker Hill (Breeds Hill), British soldiers burned most of the buildings
of Charlestown to the ground, leaving many people with no place to live. In June, 1775, thirty
homeless patriotic refugees were provided a temporary place to live at this inn until a more
permanent living accommodation was provided back in Charlestown. Nathan Hale and his
troops stopped here for breakfast in January 1776, months before British troops captured him
and hanged him for treason. Colonial troops were welcomed here on a frequent basis.
The newly elected first president of the United States, George Washington, stopped here on
November 6, 1789, on a post inaugural tour of the Northeast. By this time, Philip Ammidon,
Ichabod's son, had joined his father as innkeeper, but he was not at home when the President
arrived. Historian Florence Aldrich described the entourage as led by a gentleman in uniform
on a grey horse, two aides in uniform, also on grey horses, and then the President's carriage
pulled by bay horses ridden by two boys. A horse drawn baggage wagon followed. Miss
Aldrich explained that President Washington, upon learning that Colonel Ammidon was not at
home, decided to move on to Uxbridge to stay overnight at Samuel Taft's Tavern. When Philip
came home and was told of the famous would-be guest, he and his daughter went on to
Uxbridge for a visit with the President.
Philip's daughter, Sylva Ammidon, was married here on April 3, 1794 to Jonathan Russell. He
became an international ambassador to France, England, Sweden, and Norway. He was a
signer of the Treaty of Ghent to end the War of 1812. He served a term in Congress and was
a candidate for president in 1824, until a nasty public newspaper battle with John Quincy
Adams ended his career. He left the national scene to become Mendon town moderator in
Philip Ammidon died in 1802, but several people continued as innkeepers after his death.
Their last names were Childs, Green, Moore, Wheelock, Marsh, Dudley, and Coleman. When
the stagecoach era was replaced by the trolley and automobile, the inn became an apartment
house. David Lowell purchased the historic inn in the 1980's and has used it as an antique
Mendon Antique Center offers treasures from the past. They may be found in the form of old
furniture or framed pictures, or perhaps wooden boxes or dishes, but the real treasures are
found in its history. Ammidon Inn has been a continuous participant in our town's activities
since 1745. It has been a welcome friend for weary travelers of Middle Post Road and later,
Hartford Turnpike. It was a welcome stopover for soldiers of the Continental Army during the
American Revolution, and it provided shelter for people from war ravaged Charlestown. It
hosted town meetings when the Fourth Meetinghouse was too cold. The treasures of Ammidon
Inn are in the form of memories of happenings long ago. Its walls bear silent witness to the
growth of a great town and nation.
Mendon Historical Society -- October 25, 2016
Snubbed by John Hancock
On October 22, 1789, George Washington, newly elected as first president of the United
States, set out to visit the northern states that had joined the Union. (Rhode Island had not
yet ratified). It was a memorable journey.
The president, who had been elected by a unanimous vote of the Electoral College (the only
time that has happened), was at the height of his popularity. He was greeted everywhere with
wild enthusiasm and celebration. State officials treated him with awe. From the governors on
down to the lowliest town selectman he was accorded proper deference.
Except in Boston, where Governor John Hancock nursed delusions of grandeur.
The president’s journey through Worcester County had been a triumphal parade.
"It was an imposing little cavalcade," John Nelson wrote in his History of Worcester County. "In
advance rode a gentleman in brilliant uniform mounted on a magnificent dapple-gray horse.
He was followed by two aides, also on dapple-gray chargers. Then came President
Washington in his chariot, which was drawn by a pair of handsome gay horses of the Mount
Vernon breed, each ridden by a Negro boy in livery. In the rear was a pair of baggage
wagons with its pair of bays, with driver and attendants in livery."
Washington dined in Worcester and then set off for Boston. Festive crowds acclaimed him
along the way. Then, as the party approached Cambridge, what was later called "the John
Hancock incident" began to develop.
John Hancock, governor of Massachusetts, had a Trumpsized ego as well as a sizable
fortune. As president of the Continental Congress in 1776, he was the first to sign the
Declaration of Independence. It was said that he hoped to be named commander of the
colonial army. Years later, in 1787, while Massachusetts was debating whether to ratify the
proposed Constitution, he reportedly was persuaded to support it when Sam Adams
suggested that he, Hancock, might be chosen as first president of the new nation.
Whatever the truth of those rumors, Hancock’s role was eclipsed by George Washington in
So, when President Washington’s party approached Boston in 1789, Governor Hancock
Washington arrived in Cambridge on October 24, "according to appointment," but the
governor was not there to greet him. Neither was the expected company of local militia troops
to escort him to the State House. An hour later Lieutenant Governor Sam Adams did show up
with the militia, but the snub was obvious. Things got stickier. At the State House, where
Washington was cheered by a "vast concourse of people," Hancock failed to show.
Washington dined that evening with Vice President John Adams at a "Widow Ingersoll’s
house" which he noted in his diary as "a very decent and good house."
Meanwhile Governor Hancock was having second thoughts.
The next day, a Sunday, Washington attended two church services, one Congregational and
the other Episcopal. Between the two, Governor Hancock showed up and tried to smooth
things over. As Washington noted in his diary: "the Govr assured me that disposition alone
prevented him doing it yesterday, and that he was still indisposed; but as it had been
suggested that he expected to receive the visit from the President, which he knew was
improper, he was resolved at all haz’ds to pay his Compliments today."
Washington no doubt was courteous, but he declined an invitation to have dinner with
Hancock. He had a clear understanding of what was appropriate and what was not.
In that battle of protocols, Hancock came off second best. The townspeople of Boston and
probably New England were mortified by this slight to the new leader of the nation.
As Stewart Holbrook puts it: "When the Governor himself did not make his appearance, most
everyone figured the pompous Hancock did not wish to recognize a superior personage – at
least, not in Massachusetts."
The Dictionary of American Biography sums up the episode concisely. Washington’s visit to
Boston, it notes "was productive of little other than a warm welcome from the inhabitants and
an unnecessary test of official strength between the President of the United States and Gov.
John Hancock of Massachusetts, in which the latter came off second best, to the great glee of
the citizens of Boston."
Anyway, John Hancock’s signature still leads all the rest on the Declaration of Independence.
We can’t take that away from him. — Albert B. Southwick’s columns appear regularly in
the Telegram & Gazette.