Lexington History Resources

  • Lexington Historical Society
    Founded in 1886, the Society has a large archive of local documents and ephemera, as well as some online resources.
  • Cary Memorial Library
    Lexington's public library, providing many volumes on local history and genealogy, as well as the online Worthen collection of photographs and documents.
  • Historical area and property records
    Compiled by the Lexington Historical Commission, providing information of local buildings, structures and objects, with an interactive online map.
  • Online historical documents
    A selection of documents from the Town Clerk's archives
  • Information about the Olde Burying Ground
    Lexington's oldest cemetery; the earliest graves date from 1690. Information includes grave locations, and link to an online book about the cemetery

See information on Lexington's founding, from the Historical Commission's Historical Period Summaries.

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What is now Lexington was originally part of Cambridge, which was established in 1630. From the early 17th century until its incorporation as a town in 1713, Lexington was known by the name of "Cambridge North Precinct" or more commonly, "Cambridge Farms."

In the 17th century most of the land that is now Lexington was granted or sold in large tracts to proprietors who lived in Cambridge but used the outlying Lexington land for wood lots or hayfields. The date of the first settlement in "Cambridge Farms" is not known, although old deeds tell us that there was at least one house standing by 1642. Settlement occurred slowly, and in 1682 there were approximately 30 families or 180 persons at the Farms.

Faced with a five to ten mile journey to the nearest place of worship, the inhabitants of the Farms began efforts in 1682 to establish themselves as a separate parish. On December 15, 1691 the General Court finally granted their request. The residents of the Farms assembled for the first time as a separate parish in April 1692 and a simple meeting-house was quickly erected at the junction of the Concord and Bedford Roads (now Massachusetts Avenue and Bedford Street). A burial ground had been established nearby by 1690.

Commercial development prior to the town's incorporation consisted primarily of taverns and several small mills. Munroe Tavern was constructed in the 1690s while the Buckman Tavern dates to about 1710. Both still stand today and are managed by the Lexington Historical Society.

In 1713, the parish of Cambridge Farms became the town of Lexington, and the first public schoolhouse in Lexington was built on the Common in 1715.

By the time of the 1765 state census, Lexington was an agricultural community of 912 residents, living in 126 houses.

The first battle of the American Revolution took place in Lexington on April 19, 1775 and the town has long been known as "The Birthplace of American Liberty". On that fateful spring morning some seventy-seven militia members led by Captain John Parker stood on the Lexington Common to challenge the British troops. Eight were killed on the Common, seven of whom were residents of Lexington.