Visit The Robbins House

June, July & August: 11-4
(Closed Tuesdays)
September, October: 11-4
(Open Fri-Sun + Columbus Day)

320 Monument Street
Concord MA
(Located opposite the Old North Bridge)

(978) 254-1745
Sunday Cello Sessions

Sunday Cello Sessions

Back for Summer — Sunday Cello Sessions

Sundays, July 1st, July 8th, July 15th, and July 22nd • 12 noon-2 pm • The Robbins House

Our intern Emma Hodgdon will play the cello outdoors at the Robbins House, weather permitting.

Bring your lunch and join us!

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Reading Frederick Douglass

Reading Frederick Douglass

Join us for a conversation about independence on July 4th

Visitors can take part in a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s speech, with costumed readers voicing different eras of African American civil rights activism. A moderated discussion will follow.

WHAT: Considered one of the most daring, eloquent speeches in the English language, Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” challenges its audience, then and now, to consider the meaning of freedom, citizenship and patriotism.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 4, at 11 am

WHERE: The Robbins House, 320 Monument Street, across from the Old Manse and North Bridge

FREE AND OPEN TO ALL: Bring a blanket or folding chair. Drinks, hats and fans available to help manage the heat!

OUR EVENT INCLUDES

A participatory community reading of Douglass’s speech accompanied by costumed readers representing different eras of civil rights activism, including:

  • a Civil War era abolitionist
  • a 1960s era Civil Rights marcher
  • a 1970s era Black Panther
  • a present day Indigenous Sovereignty activist
  • a present day Black Lives Matter protester

The community reading will be followed by a moderated audience discussion with historians.

Refreshments and kids’ activities available.

This event is timed to end at 1 pm, when the Minute Man National Historical Park annual reading of the Declaration of Independence begins at the North Bridge.

Sponsored by MassHumanities.

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Celebrate Juneteenth At The Robbins House

Celebrate Juneteenth at the Robbins House

Celebrate Juneteenth at the Robbins House

Saturday, June 16 th • 2:00-4:00 pm • The Robbins House
All ages are welcome to join us at the Robbins House for a celebration of the African American holiday, Juneteenth (a combination of the words June + nineteenth, and the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the US). Concord joins other African American communities in this annual commemoration of the emancipation of the last enslaved people in the United States: June 19th, 1865. Learn about the history – through live reenactment – of the Robbins House and the importance of Juneteenth from Robbins House inhabitant, Miss Ellen Garrison, a Concord public school student, freedman’s school teacher in the South, and social justice advocate. Check out our new art installation inspired by Ellen Garrison. Come enjoy food, crafts, music and storytelling.

Sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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On Brister’s Hill With The Walden Woods Project

On Brister’s Hill with The Walden Woods Project

We were rained out, rained out again, and nearly rained out a third time for our program On Brister’s Hill with Robbins House re-enactor Joe Zellner and Walden Woods Project Director of Education, Whitney Retallic. Here are highlights we learned about Brister Freeman, whose home was in the town forest and Walden Woods:

  • Between the ages of 5-9, enslaved Brister was given to Concord’s Dr. Cuming, presumably as a wedding gift.
  • In the Revolutionary War, Private Brister Cuming marched under Colonel John Buttrick to Saratoga in 1777, and watched British General Burgoyne surrender.
  • Two years later he enlisted under the name Brister Freeman, announcing his newly acquired freedom.
  • He was the second man of African descent (after John Jack) to purchase Concord land in 1785, where he built a house shared with Charlestown Edes, his black comrade in the Continental Army.
  • He married, adopted his wife’s daughter, and had 2 sons. Both his wife and Charlestown Edes died of diseases associated with malnutrition. The soil in Walden Woods was so poor that o nutritious crops could be grown.
  • Freeman worked as a day laborer around town, often at Peter Wheeler’s slaughterhouse on the mill pond.
  • The Concord Social Circle Centennial edition (1782-1882) includes a passage about Peter Wheeler locking Freeman in his barn with an angry bull, with Wheeler astonished to see Freeman emerge and the bull slain.
  • Freeman strove to maintain possession of his land, which may have been threatened by his failure to pay back taxes, by appearing in court with his deed. In his will he left his land to a neighboring woman, rather than have it go to an unwelcome owner.
  • Brister Freeman died in 1822, the same year as Revolutionary War patriots of color Caesar Robbins and Case Feen.
  • Peter Robbins pointed out the ditch fence dug around Freeman’s property, still visible today.
Spotlight On New Robbins House Co-President Rob Munro

Spotlight on New Robbins House Co-President Rob Munro

“To a certain extent, we do live in a bubble here,” Rob said, “not only at Middlesex, but also in Concord. I am very hopeful that we can gently expand that bubble and have more difficult conversations about culture, history and race. And, in the process, become more empathetic and understanding of those around us.”

It’s not surprising that family means so much to Rob Munro, who, at the age of 2, was adopted by a loving couple in Walpole, Mass., along with his identical twin brother Ryan. In the process, the boys quickly acquired 10 siblings in what Rob describes as a very diverse family: six black kids, six white kids, six boys and six girls.
Now, some 30 years later, Rob says he’s close to all his brothers and sisters who are still alive and to mom Nancy (his father died when he was 11), who will soon be turning 80. “Most of us live in the area,” he said, “and we all get together at our mom’s house at least once a month or every other month.” Of those younger years, Rob says, “It was a great childhood.”
Sitting on a wooden bench by the Middlesex School lawn on a sparkling spring day, Rob talked about that first family, his academic pursuits, his varied roles and responsibilities at Middlesex and his interests and hopes for the Robbins House, where, earlier this year, he was elected co-president. Rob’s current family – wife Sarah and daughter Wesley –
has recently announced the birth of their new girl Abigail.

Teaching and research

After graduating from Bates where he majored in philosophy and religion, Rob earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at Michigan State, while also immersing himself in African American studies. “I found, though, that I really liked teaching more than research,” he says, adding that it was the enjoyment he derived from teaching that led him to Middlesex, where he began teaching history while also coaching tennis, a sport he had played at college along with squash and soccer.

Soon thereafter, he created the school’s Global Studies Program, with a focus on bringing the outside world to the student, rather than the other way around, and on having difficult conversations. Of the latter, Rob says, “We don’t have to agree with what someone else is saying, but we do need to talk to one another and have those awkward conversations if we are going to develop more understanding and progress as a society and as a people.”

The students he interacts with on an almost daily basis are often more receptive to having those difficult conversations than the adults he encounters. “They are very interested in the world around them and willing to ask hard questions – about race, gender, sexuality – to learn more,” he says.

Today’s youth

“At the same time, they want to find out where they fit in and how they can make a difference. I’m incredibly optimistic about the youth of today.”

Of the Robbins House, Rob says he’s looking to expand and integrate more fully into our culture the rich narrative that begins with an enslaved man – Caesar Robbins – fighting in the Revolutionary War, gaining his freedom and eventually becoming a landowner in Concord. He’ll also be working to ensure the sustainability of the Robbins House long into the future.
As he looks to become a positive influence on those he comes into contact with, Rob says it’s the women in his life who have greatly influenced him: mom Nancy, wife Sarah and Robbins House co-president Maria Madison.

They have been mentors, coaches, a source of inspiration and a source of comfort to him. “I hope along the way,” he says, “to pay them back for all they’ve done for me.”

“To a certain extent, we do live in a bubble here,” Rob said, “not only at Middlesex, but also in Concord. I am very hopeful that we can gently expand that bubble and have more difficult conversations about culture, history and race. And, in the process, become more empathetic and understanding of those around us.”

Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program— Patriots, Prejudice, And Protest: The Hidden Stories Of Concord’s Early African Americans

Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program— Patriots, Prejudice, and Protest: The Hidden Stories of Concord’s Early African Americans

Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program — Patriots, Prejudice, and Protest: The Hidden Stories of Concord’s Early African Americans

At The Robbins House
Sat. May 19 • 2:45–4:00 PM
Meet at 320 Monument St., in the Parking Lot across from the North Bridge
Our next stop, with time to travel, is the Robbins House, where Peter Robbins’ niece Ellen Garrison talks about being raised in 1820-30s Concord, and the antislavery activism that brought her from Boston to Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Kansas, and California in pursuit of independence at a time of racial injustice.
Register at education@walden.org.

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Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program — Patriots, Prejudice, And Protest: The Hidden Stories Of Concord’s Early African Americans

Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program — Patriots, Prejudice, and Protest: The Hidden Stories of Concord’s Early African Americans

Freedom’s Way Hidden Treasures Program — Patriots, Prejudice, and Protest: The Hidden Stories of Concord’s Early African Americans

On Brister’s Hill with The Walden Woods Project
Sat. May 19 • 1:00–2:15 PM • Brister’s Hill
Meet at Hapgood Wright Town Forest Parking Lot
Our program will begin at Brister’s Hill, named after Brister Freeman, a formerly enslaved man who was the second person of African descent to own land in Concord. Peter Robbins, whose father Caesar Robbins went with Brister Freeman as a soldier to Bennington in the summer of 1776, will recount the lives of Patriots of Color. Both Brister Freeman and Caesar Robbins gained their freedom at the time of the Revolutionary war and began lives as free men in Concord. See the ditch fence Brister Freeman dug around his property almost 200 years ago.

Register at education@walden.org.

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Transgressing The Color Line: Depictions Of Free Blacks In The Popular Press

Transgressing the Color Line: Depictions of Free Blacks in the Popular Press

Transgressing the Color Line: Depictions of Free Blacks in the Popular Press

Fresh Goods Lecture Series
Thursday, May 10 • 7:00-8:00 PM • Concord Museum
Join writer and historian Jonathan Michael Square as he analyzes past images of free Africans Americans in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston that appeared in the popular press. Specifically, a series of cartoons published in the early 19th century used to arouse northern anti-black fears that free blacks might be threatening the racial, sexual, and class hierarchies of the time. Fashion will be the central analytic as free blacks were often depicted as dandified buffoons. He will show how the overly fashioned bodies of the free blacks in northern metropolises transgressed and threatened the, until then, established slavocratic order. Professor Square is a writer and historian specializing in Afro-Diasporic fashion and visual culture. He currently teaches at Harvard University, where his work explores the intersection of fashion and slavery in the African Diaspora — an outgrowth of his academic training at Cornell University, University of Texas at Austin, and New York University. Museum members free, Non-members $5.

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Interactive Workshop & Panel Discussion

Interactive Workshop & Panel Discussion

Myth, Reality & Mapping the Underground Railroad An Interactive Workshop & Panel Discussion

Saturday, May 5th • 9 am–3:30 pm
St John’s Church • 101 Chapel Street | Portsmouth NH
Cost: $35 Tour & Symposium (includes lunch) • $25 Symposium only (includes lunch) • $20 Tour only • Register here

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CCHS Students Teach Elementary School Students About The Robbins House

CCHS Students Teach Elementary School Students about the Robbins House

Spring Semester • The Robbins House

This spring, a group of 6 students from the Rivers and Revolutions program, working with CCHS teacher and Robbins House board member Johanna Glazer, have been developing field trip curriculum that can be used by the Robbins House and the Concord Public Schools. So far they have planned and piloted activities for second and fifth graders including an Ellen Garrison scavenger hunt, a petition activity, and a consideration of everyday life in the Robbins House. The Rivers and Revolutions students have learned a great deal about the house and its residents and are excited to find ways to bring the house to life for young people. The students have two more elementary school visits scheduled in May to continue developing and testing activities for young people.

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