Taverns in the Plymouth area remained into the 19th century when they were gradually replaced by more modern hotels and restaurants. But in the outlying area of town, along the oldest public road in the country, our traditional 18th century tavern still exists. The Cornish Tavern stands today, looking much the same as it did two centuries ago. It is currently run as the Rye Tavern, keeping the old tavern tradition alive.
Horatio "Race" Wright, 1818-1895, lived for some time at The Cornish Tavern, at which time it became known as Wright's Tavern.
Unlike the modern car or bus, stagecoaches and their teams required regular rest stops along their routes of travel. There were two stops on Old Sandwich Road in Plymouth--one in Ellisville and the other at The Cornish Tavern. The tavern was built in 1792 by Josiah Cornish, who along with his wife Abigail Clark Cornish, affectionately nicknamed "Nabby," maintained the tavern as an inn and popular meeting place for many years.
Wright's Tavern, circa 1890
"Was that the Cornish's where you had your parties?"
"Yes; Cornish's Tavern, eight miles or so on the old stage road that goes from Boston through Plymouth down to the Cape."
"Up at Cornish's we just took that tavern and all that was in it, and rummaged and helped ourselves and turned things upside down. And we had a great supper, and we danced four-handed reels, and some the double-shuffle, and we played plays."
-The New England Magazine
"I stopped one night at tavern...about forty miles from Boston, and as I was cold and wet, I sat down at a good fire in the bar-room to dry my greatcoat and saddle bags, till a fire could be made up in my chamber. There presently came in, one after another, half a dozen, or half a score of substantial yeomen of the neighborhood, who, sitting down to the fire after lighting their pipes, began a lively conversation on politics. As I believed I was unknown to all of them, I sat in total silence to hear them."
-John Adams, quoted in 1794 in reference to The Cornish Tavern
Even after the Old Colony Railroad reached Plymouth in 1845, there was still a need for a resting place of horse-drawn coaches making connections to outlying towns. The tavern's popularity is attested to by the following excerpts in an 1889 anecdote published in The New England Magazine.
517 Old Sandwich Road, Plymouth MA 02360 508-591-7515