In 1639 some citizens of Lynn petitioned the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for “place for an inland plantation.” The General Court granted them six square miles, then an additional four. The first settlement was called Lynn Village.
On June 10th, 1644 the settlement was incorporated by the House of Deputies as the Town of Reading, taking its name from Reading, England.
This house, the oldest documented one still standing in Reading, was built by Abraham Bryant, a farmer and blacksmith. It is a style called “saltbox”, typical of seventeenth century houses, with a massive central chimney.
Abraham Bryant 3rd sold the house to his brother-in-law Nathaniel Stow, who was also a blacksmith.
Ephraim Parker, from whom the house takes its name, operated a licensed inn during the Revolutionary War period. Some of the prisoners of war from the 71st Scottish Regiment, including their commander Colonel Archibald Campbell and his officers, were quartered here.
The Sweetser Family owned and operated the property as a farm for most of the 19th century.
In 1886, the Catholic church purchased the Sweetser property and built a new church building in the northwest corner on Washington Street. The Tavern was rented as a residence until 1916.
The town sold the Tavern to the Reading Antiquarian Society for a nominal sum. Since 1923, the Society has maintained the Tavern for the benefit of all the townspeople, without any appropriation from the town’s budget.
In 2019, the Parker Tavern celebrated it’s 325th birthday with cake, a colonial faire and a goat petting zoo.