Reading Antiquarian Society and Parker Tavern

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READING, MA — Since its founding in 1916, the Reading Antiquarian Society has facilitated the preservation of Reading’s colorful history, particularly through the operation of Parker Tavern located at 103 Washington Street.

Virginia “Ginny” Blodgett, Braintree native, and her husband Everett, a New Hampshire native, serve on the board of the Reading Antiquarian Society as the current president and treasurer, respectively. The retired teachers “haven’t stopped being busy” with their active involvement at Parker Tavern throughout the years.

The Reading Antiquarian Society was founded with the intention of saving Parker Tavern, which was in a state of disrepair at the time. Its first residents built the historic house in 1694 and had various occupants until the late 1800’s. To save Parker Tavern, the members of the Antiquarian Society purchased the property in 1923.

Parker Tavern is a non-profit that is sustained by a live-in caretaker and volunteers. Because of its private ownership, Parker Tavern relies on individual donations and membership to the Antiquarian Society. 

The peak time to visit the Parker Tavern is the summer months, and tours are held on Sunday afternoons during the season. The Antiquarian Society also works alongside Reading Public Schools to host tours for students learning about American history.

“In 329 years, this house has seen the settlement of what we know as Reading today, all the way through to the present,” said Ginny. Since its construction, Parker Tavern has seen “every change in lifestyle that has taken place.”

To accentuate Parker Tavern’s rich history, visitors can take themselves back in time when they tour. One side of the house is furnished as it would have been when its original owners built it in 1694. The other side of the house is furnished as it would have been around the time of the Civil War, in the mid-to late-1800s.

The Reading Antiquarian Society and the Reading Gardening Club have partnered up, as the Gardening Club maintains flower and herb gardens on the property, which are labeled with what their purposes were in the colonial era. The Antiquarian Society plants a vegetable garden as well.

“I think it’s important today when the kids arrive; I always start them out by asking if they know what a witness is. It’s just seeing anything or being present for something,” said Ginny. “I want them to think about Parker Tavern as a witness house because it has been standing on this spot for 329 years.”

The Parker Tavern is open from May 1st through the end of October and hosts Sunday afternoon tours during those months. In addition, the Reading Antiquarian Society has hosted workshops, programs, and exhibits around town.

“Even when the Tavern is not open, we encourage people to come and walk the grounds and see what’s there,” said Ginny. “People who have lived in Reading their whole lives come for tours and [had] never known about Parker Tavern before then.”

Beyond maintaining the historic house, the Reading Antiquarian Society has also assisted people who have reached out looking into their genealogy. Various people from all over the country have reached out with Reading ties, and the Reading Antiquarian Society has helped to provide historical information about Reading.

Parker Tavern Open House Tour 2023 – Photo by Kenan Cooper

“We’d love to get more people to come and would love to get more people who would like to help out,” said Ginny. “We’re always welcoming people who want to volunteer their time, whether it’s to help when we have an event, to help with tours, or to come up with ideas about what the Society could do for outreach.”

“We want to raise awareness and to get people involved so that Parker Tavern will survive for another 329 years.”

Everett and Ginny Blodgett authored a book for Reading’s 375th celebration Images of America: Reading, published by Arcadia Publishing. The book is available by contacting the authors at

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