The Tavern on Main was built in the early 1700's. It was originally a two-and-a-half-story colonial dwelling, built on a stone foundation. The founders started with a huge center fireplace (the upper portions, unfortunately, have been removed over the years) as a building block. Framed walls and floors extended from the fireplace using hand-hewn native Chesnut and oak lumber in a post and beam construction. These beams and timbers are evident throughout the building as it stands today.
The village of Chepachet was the site of the most controversial political upheavals in Rhode Island's history. In 1842, Chepachet resident Thomas
Door, a well-respected lawyer was a duly elected Rhode Island governor by the people's party. The incumbent governor, Samuel King refused to step down. Governor Door called the RI general assembly to convene in this building on July 4, 1842.
The struggle for power prompted Governor King to order a general call to arms to quell Dorr's rebellion. King's forces arrived to do battle with Dorr's troops who were entrenched atop Acote's Hill (Cemetery Hill located 1/4 mile east on Rte. 44 on the left). Dorr, realizing that he was outnumbered and outgunned, withdrew the night before King's troops arrived. King and all his men fired right into the front door of the building.
Shots were fired through a locked tavern door. Horace Bordeen was struck in the thigh. Jedediah Sprague (tavernkeeper in 1842) in order to save his patrons and establishment, was forced to submit to King's troops and he allowed them lodging. This occupation of troops continued throughout the summer, much to tavernkeeper Sprague's dismay.
An 1844 volume discloses that these troops consumed 37 gallons of Brandy, 29 gallons of West India Rum, 34 flasks of liquor, dozens of bottles of old Madeira and Sherry, 12 dozen bottles of Champagne, and 2 dozen bottles of cider. In addition, 820 bushels of oats, 17 tons of hay, 50 bushels of corn, 16 bushels of meal, and a quarter ton of straw were consumed. 2,400 dinners were served, and 11,500 cigars the soldiers enjoyed. All these items were charged and Jedediah Sprague never collected a penny for this bill.
The 20th century has witnessed many owner changes at the Tavern on Main. First, as a drab apartment building, a billiard parlor, a pub, then a restaurant, upgraded as it passed to each new Tavernkeeper. The Tavern on Main has once again assumed its position in today's busy, competitive community, and has continued to maintain its popularity. The tradition of hospitality will always continue at the Tavern on Main.