|Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011|
On Saturday, May 21st, a partnership between the Drinking Gourd Project, Minute Man National Historical Park, and the Town of Concord succeeded in saving an important piece of African-American history. The Robbins House, built in 1830 by the descendants of Caesar Robbins, a Concord slavery survivor and veteran of the American Revolution, made a two-mile trip to its new home in the park.
The Drinking Gourd Project, a Concord-based nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness of the town’s African and Abolitionist history from the 17th through the 19th centuries, learned of plans to demolish the Robbins House two years ago and has been working to save it from demolition and relocate it.
Their dreams were realized on Saturday morning, as a moving crew arrived early and the house was loaded on the back of a flatbed truck. It crawled through the town center behind a police escort and teams of Verizon workers who lifted any phone lines that hung in its path. Crowds of people followed behind or watched from the sidewalks as the building crept through the town center toward its new address, closer to its original location on the edge of the “Great Fields” near the North Bridge in Concord. It was placed on a parcel of town-owned land that is managed by the National Park Service.
The Caesar Robbins House is the only standing house built by an early African resident of Concord, and Peter Hutchinson, who was the last member of the Robbins family to live in the house, was the first African-American resident of Concord to vote. In addition to its Revolutionary War connection, the structure was home to several generations of Concord’s early African-American families and is closely associated with the abolitionist movement in Concord.
As part of Saturday’s celebration, a “Bench by the Road” was dedicated for the site. The Bench by the Road Project is a memorial history and community outreach initiative of the Toni Morrison Society. This was only the fifth of the historical markers, placed both in the United States and abroad, that help remember the lives of Africans who were enslaved and mark important locations in African American history.