Wayside Sign

Have you ever heard the lines: “Listen my children, and you shall hear; Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere/ On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five/Hardly a man is now alive/Who remembers that famous day and year?”

These lines make up the opening stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Landlord’s Tale,” a poem in his 1863 compilation Tales of a Wayside Inn.”

The Howe Inn and Tavern of Sudbury, Massachusetts served as the inspiration for Longfellow’s tales. Today, you can visit and eat dinner at Howe’s Inn and Tavern, but we know it by a different name: Today we know it as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.

In this bonus episode, we explore a listener requested topic of colonial inns and taverns by investigating the history of the oldest inn still in operation: Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

In this bonus episode, we explore the history of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, which began in 1716 as Howe’s Inn and Tavern. Leading us on our investigation is Richard Gnatowski and Steve Pickford.

Longfellows Wayside InnRichard has worked as the Miller at the Wayside Inn Grist Mill for many years and is an expert on the property and its history.

Steve once served as the Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage for the Wayside Inn, today he serves as its ninth innkeeper.

Although these gentlemen are not professional historians, they happen to know a lot about this very special place.

During our conversation, Richard and Steve reveal the history of Howe’s Inn and Tavern and the role it played during the American Revolution; what types of food and accommodations colonial travelers could expect to find at a wayside inn and tavern; and the roles played by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry Ford, and present-day visitors in preserving this historic site.


What You’ll Discover

  • Overview of how the Wayside Inn started as Howe’s Inn and Tavern in 1716
  • Information about the old Boston Post Road
  • Accommodations provided by the Inn between 1716 and the present day
  • Henry_wasdworth_longfellowNew Englanders' preference for the ox over the horse
  • The role the Wayside Inn and its owners played in the American Revolution
  • Why early Americans slept 2 or more to a bed in a tavern or inn, even if they did not know each other
  • The types of food and drink the Howes served to their guests
  • Details about early American ice harvests and how early Americans used ice to preserve food
  • What food items Steve and Richard recommend at the Wayside Inn today
  • Different Early American cocktails you can try at the Wayside Inn
  • Why Howe’s Tavern became Longfellow’s Wayside Inn
  • The buildings, sites, and nature you will see when you visit the Wayside Inn


Links to People, Places, and Publications


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