|April 25, 2009|
Along the Freedom Trail there are at least a few historic bars I thought worth seeing, especially as my curiosity was piqued by a post I did last August on America’s Oldest Bars. The impetus to create a list of the oldest bars came from what appeared at first blush to be a rather poor list of the 10 oldest bars at SloshSpot. Their list had the Bell In Hand as the second-oldest bar in America, which didn’t seem quite right. After doing some digging, the Bell In Hand comes in around 14th or 15th.
The Bell In Hand claims that it’s “America’s oldest continuously operating tavern.” But later on at the website they reveal that it’s original location was on Elm St. (where City Hall is now; it’s currently on Union St.) and that the current bar was built in 1844. Hmm, I’m not sure that passes muster as being continuously operated. I don’t think there’s any rule-making authority but I’d say common sense would dictate that you’d have to be in the same location to make such a claim. And let’s not forget we’re all sort of agreeing to give everybody a pass for those 13 years when all bars were closed due to Prohibition. In a sense, there are no continuously operating bars older than 75 years.
The Bell In Hand from across the street on Union Street.
The corner of the Bell In Hand with Union on the left and Marshall Street on the right.
Inside the bar.
The Bell In Hand tap handle for a contract beer made by the Boston beer Co. It was out, but the bartender assured me it was pretty bitter, as if that would offer some relief that it wasn’t available. She seemed remarkably uninformed about the beers they served. Instead I ordered the Sam Adams Red Brick Red, a decent, if unremarkable, amber ale and naturally ordered some frites.
I’d been warned that most Boston beers don’t have a great selection and that was certainly the case here, as well as almost every place I visited (apart from the marquee beer bars in town).
The hand holding the bell sculpture dominated the middle of the bar as you entered from either side.
The back entrance on Marshall Street.