The Haunt: Transcendental Medication

The folksinger, a local favorite named John Fitzsimmons, is 10 minutes into a chat with his bar mate (and almost 30 minutes into one of his legendary "set breaks") before he realizes who he’s talking to. "Wait, you’re not one of the Muellers from White Pond, are you?" he says. "Dude, your dad was my Cub Scout leader!"

Throw down a pint or two at the Colonial Inn’s Village Forge Tavern, and it’s not hard to find some Romeo who played spin-the-bottle with your long-lost girl next door. The crowd of regulars—mostly thirty- and fortysomething Concord natives, none of whom ever quite got around to leaving town—is as unchanging as the dark, intimate interior cobbled together from ancient barn boards more than 40 years ago. Fitz’s soulful ballads still play in the background, an antique ox yoke still hangs over the fireplace, and the same huddle of Sunday-morning football players (members of a league started by their fathers) trash-talk their way through several rounds of brew. That’s how it goes at the Forge, in a town rooted firmly, if a little self-consciously, in its own history.

 
Which of course is why so many moneyed tourists, be they boarding school parents or nerdy history buffs, are here, too, knocking back Wachusett ale and Guinness before the roaring fire. In a world of cheesy, plastic facsimiles, this is the real deal. In 1799, Henry David Thoreau’s grandfather bought the house on this plot of land overlooking the bustling town green, and the writer himself lived here before decamping to the pond. Now the neighborhood boys gather, less to contemplate nature, literature, and eternity than to imbibe in time to the bluegrass and acoustic jazz. Sure, they’re about as revolutionary as a Brooks Brothers button-down, but it was in this very room that their cranky forebears stored arms and plotted the war of independence nearly 235 years ago.

"Go Acton-Boxborough!" hoots a man three-deep into his cups when Fitz asks where everyone’s from tonight.

"Them’s fightin’ words," says a nearby Concord man. Some things never change.

Village Forge Tavern, the Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Sq., Concord, 978-369-9200, concordscolonialinn.com

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  • jill rosenwald

    12 chairs is the BEST! love these fresh designer-ators for their gorgeous shop and fabulous design sensibility!