Welcome to the Allen House!
About the Allen House:
This landmark structure sits at the northwest corner of the Historic Four Corners in Shrewsbury, sharing the intersection with Christ Church (1769), the Presbyterian Church (1821), Shrewsbury Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Meetinghouse (1816) and the Shrewsbury Historical Museum. MCHA has chosen to furnish the building as a tavern to reflect its 18th century reputation as the Blue Ball Tavern when it served as the very popular and “most noted tavern in Shrewsbury.” It also acted as the one of the community’s vital social institutions, serving at times as a court room where legal decisions were handed down by a visiting judge, town hall, post office, dance hall and gathering place. Until the fall of 2017, the house was generally known as the “Allen House.”
The property where the house stands was first purchased around 1680 by a Quaker named Judah Allen. In 1754, Josiah Halstead bought the property and turned the existing dwelling on the site into the Blue Ball Tavern which operated for almost sixty years at that busy intersection. Over the years, several major improvements were made to the structure, including construction of an attached kitchen with a large brick fireplace, and conversion to the present gambrel roof so that the attic space could be turned into more usable rooms. The first floor provided a tap room where patrons could enjoy a drink, discuss local politics and engage in a card game by the fireplace. The second floor contained a large meeting room, and a smaller chamber that might have accommodated overnight patrons. The rich history of the Tavern Museum at Allen House includes, among other events, a Revolutionary War massacre (1779) and – by legend – a visit from President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (1916) who stopped in for goods during a period when the property acted as a local store.