Bull Run Logo Text


Did Paul Revere Knock on Our Door?

We have no concrete evidence to support a belief that Mr. Paul Revere knocked on our door. We do know that Shirley is the last town in Middlesex County to the West, and that the famous Longfellow poem tells us that Paul Revere rode through 'every Middlesex village and farm.' The seeds of truth are sown, and thus it is that legends grow...

Many a tale, spun by the welcoming glow of our Taproom hearth, becomes ever more believable fact as it passed along, by word of mouth, from one contented patron to the next.

Excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea from the town to-night,

Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–

One if by land, and two if by sea;

And I on the opposite shore will be,

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every Middlesex village and farm,

For the country folk to be up and to arm."

How the Bull Run Got Its Name

In Seth Chandler's "History of the Town of Shirley" it is documented that obadiah sawtell’s tavern was the first stop on the Boston to Albany Route, and was once called "Stagecoach Inn".

in those days, the horse drawn stagecoaches brought news of events from far away locations. Townspeople gathered bits and pieces of information reported by the driver and passengers as the journey progressed. Upon one occasion, during the American War Between the States, there was news that in the Battle of Bull Run, all was not going well for the North.

An argument ensued in our Taproom. In those days a lusty brawl was great sport for all, and when the scuffling had ended, lo, no one was left standing save the burly bartender.

Just then, a late comer opened the door and breathlessly asked: "What news of the battle? " To which the bemused bartender is reputed to have replied: "We just fought the Battle of Bull Run right here!" Thus was born the present name for the old tavern, for the town wag, amused by the story, painted the words "BULL RUN" on a sign board and hung it over the bar. The name caught on and has lasted to the present day.


The Drunkard's Progress

The Bull Run's "Drunkard's Progress" is copied from a Currier and Ives print entitled: "Drunkard's Progress: From the First Glass to the Grave". The American Temperance Movement, led by Protestant clergymen and reform-minded women, was at its height when this print appeared in 1846. Of the three great nineteenth century reform movements - temperance, abolition of slavery, and women's suffrage - Currier and Ives most actively supported temperance, issuing more than 30 prints on behalf of the cause. The print served as a rallying cry for the Temperance League, which deplored the free use of alcoholic beverages. They sought (for a while, successfully) to install Prohibition throughout the Nation, making its sale illegal, its use horrific. We at Bull Run are happy to report it still stands in a place of honor next to our Tap Room bar, and that there is absolutely no correlation between its dire steps and our guests who are seated beneath them.

about the artists:

the drunkard’s progress was painted on our wall in 1948 by nancy byers affleck & her husband myron hopkins strong affleck, jr., of groton, ma. the couple were good friends of the innkeepers Lee & mary guercio of shirley & members of the shirley players, a community theater group who met often at bull run and performed locally at the well-known whalom playhouse. they are the grandparents of actor ben affleck.

The Drunkard's Progress at Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley, MA
Obadiah Sawtell's Tavern, the original Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley, MA
Those Colonial Boys at Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley, MA