AMMIDON INN

    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
    long ago.

    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 popular
    stopover.

    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 1827.

    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 store.

    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.

    Richard Grady
    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 fir st 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 both cases.
    So, when President Washington’s party approached Boston in 1789, Governor Hancock became
    "indisposed."

    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 mi litia, 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
    stren gth 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.