Ye Old Inn

The Daily Times and Chronicle, Tuesday, January 8, 1991

Burlington Past and Present, by
John E. Fogelberg
(Article # 600)

The grand old house has just had a new coat of paint and
sparkles in the winter sun, just as it must have done a
century-and-a-half ago, when it operated as a stop on the stage
line running between Boston and Nashua, N.H. Then known as the
Marion Tavern, it became, after the demise of the stages, the
home of one of Burlington's most successful farmers who renamed
the old hostelry "Grandview Farm."
That name is most appropriate for the view from the west-
ern windows of the old place, across the lowlands and low
hills, including far-off Mt. Wachusett on a clear day and high
land over the New Hampshire border as well. The sign the farmer
had made for his farm was replaced over the carriage house
doorways, and gives the old place the sense of "pride-of-place"
that the building holds in Burlington's history.
Old buildings in and of themselves are interesting places
partly because of construction, partly because of use and
partly because of the people who lived in them. At least three
important people should be mentioned in any commentary on the
old inn; Abner Marion, Charles McIntire and Gove Sleeper.
The older section of the building may have been built
prior to the Revolution and stood on what was later known as
the Trull Lot. It was a salt box like many another farm house
built in the 1700's.
In 1800, that house belonged to Jesse Blanchard, who may
have been the one who built it moved to Marblehead in 1803,
selling the property to Solomon Trull, the local blacksmith for
many years. Trull may have been living in that house prior to
that time, since the assessment of 1798 lists Blanchard's house
as "held by occupants only." Trull's blacksmith shop stood
across the street.
The Trull farm with the house and the blacksmith shop
became the property of Charles and Noah Harlow sometime before
Trull's death in 1839; that pair sold the property to Abner
Marion in 1842. Abner had it moved south a short distance and
attached it to a larger house he also owned.
A map of Burlington drawn in 1831 by Bartholomew
Richardson does not show the tavern, simply because it was not
operating as a tavern at that time. But the farmhouse certainly
was there prior to that time for John Wood, who had moved to
Fry-burg, Maine, who sold in 1827 one half of the property of
14 acres with a house and barn to Aaron Senter, and the other
half probably for investment purposes to Charlestown merchants
John Skinner and John Hurd.
In 1830, the entire pacel went to Nathan Prescott, a
carpenter builder from Concord. Four years later, Abner married
Nathan's sister and the farm was turned over to the young
couple, who moved in at once.
They decided to open a tavern, turning the old barn into a
carriage house to accommodate the trade, added the Trull house
to the main building and then built a big barn to the rear, a
barn that today is much in need of repair.
Before Abner died in 1858, he owned more than 185 acres of
land with the buildings thereon in the very center of town.
Abner Marion was born the son of John Cutler Marion in
1809 in an old colonial house once facing Winn Street in
Winnmere and known at a later time as the Pollock place.
The building of the access road to Route 128 in 1949
forced its removal to another location and it stands today on
Sylvester Road not far from its original location. That house
was built about 1730. Any number of Marions were born there,
including Abner's father. Born there to John C. Marion and his
wife, the former Martha Carter, were John, Charles, Abner,
Elijah, Martha and George.
John married Emaline Cummings and moved into her father's
home on the corner of Winn Street and the Swamp Road, later
renamed Lowell Street and today Beacon Street; Charles died a
young man of 25 years; Abner married Sarah Prescott of Concord
and sired seven children, all born in the tavern he operated,
Ann, Abner, Nathan, Edwin, Horace, Otis and Sarah; it is
interesting to note that Abner's sister Martha married Humphrey
Prescott; Elijah married an Ann Parker of Woburn, and George
died an old bachelor.
Abner not only was active in the real estate business and
busy as a tavern keeper, but also was most active in town
affairs. He served as assessor, field driver, hog reefer,
surveyor of highways, measurer of wool (wood?), overseer of the
poor and pound keeper.
The pound, by the way, a walled-in space to hold stray
animals, once occupied the lot where Sears Street now joins
Center Street. Center Street was once called Main Street and
Sears Street wasn't laid out until 1906. So Abner didn't have
far to walk to visit either the blacksmith shop or the town-
pound.
The next influential person to occupy the old tavern was
Charles McIntire. His direct immigrant ancestor was one of
three Scots brothers exiled by Cromwell to New England -
Robert, Malcolm and Philip. The latter and youngest boy settled
in Reading and one or more of his descendants moved to Woburn
Second Parish, now Burlington, about the year 1766. By 1821
there were three McIntires assessed here; Daniel, George and
Joseph.
Charles McIntire was the son of Daniel and Hannah
Richardson McIntire, born 1835. He was the last of eight
children born to them, the others being Daniel, Sarah, Joseph,
Lydia, Jesse, George and Hannah. All were born in Burlington on
what later became Burlington's Poor Farm, the original building
of which burned down in 1879. Charles ran that farm for a while
after his father died in 1852, when it became the Poor Farm. He
then worked for his wife's father, David Skelton, for five or
so years after which he organized a milk business and then
bought the Marion Tavern property in 1870.
Charles McIntire supervised from there a most successful
milk route and market garden business specializing in sweet
corn in season. He housed and cared for between 30 and 40 head
of cattle and eight or 10 horses. He bought Carter's shoddy
shop or heel factory on Cambridge Street, which once stood next
to the present White Construction building. With it went the
nine-acre piece now the high school, football field.
Charles married Helen Skelton and fathered two children,
Wilbur and Walter McIntire, both of whom some of the older
citizens of this town still will remember. The old tavern under
the name of Grandview Farm finally became the property of Mary
Bernice McIntire, the fourth child born to Walter and Clara
Cobb McIntire in 1902. The other children were named Helen,
Marion, Clarence and Kenneth. Bernice married Gove Sleeper in
1929.
Gove Sleeper was born in Medford in 1903, one of three
children born to Fred and Carrie Sleeper. It wasn't until he
was graduated from Medford High School that he moved to Burl-
ington. Here he ran a little store called "The Cedars" where he
sold eggs, poultry and farm produce. He moved into the old
Tavern after his marriage and carried on a little farming
there.
Gove became the first Scout Master in Burlington when
Troop 511 was organized in 1932. He became one of the early
supporters of a town water supply, and became Chairman of the
committee organized in 1947 to draw up a proposal for a town
supply of water under pressure, a proposal which was approved
and became the Burlington Water District in 1949.
Gove also was instrumental in having the town approve the
building of Burlington's first high school building on land
once a part of the old farm. Today that building houses the
Council on Aging and various other town offices.
Much has been written about all three of those influential
and ambitious Burlington citizens, but suffice it to say here,
ye olde inn was a most hospitable home to each one of them.
As it must be to its present owners, Hubert and Ann
Ruping.