Hooper-Lee-Nichols House

Built in 1685, the Hooper-Lee-Nichols house is the second oldest house in Cambridge. During the pre-Revolutionary era, it was owned by Joseph Lee who had purchased the property in 1758. Lee was a Harvard graduate who made his fortune as a merchant and land spectator. Although he was denied re-election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1766, and rejected as “unfit” from a permanent appointment in the Court of Common Pleas in 1769, Judge Lee was chosen by the English Crown to serve on the Mandamus Council, a royal governing body that usurped power from the local government as a condition of the 1774 Coercive Acts.

However, in September of 1774, when Gage’s mission to legally withdraw the colony’s gunpowder stores from the Charlestown Powderhouse went awry, an angry mob of 4,000 provincials gathered on Cambridge Common to protest that incident and the Intolerable Acts, themselves. Armed only with sticks, the frustrated colonists marched down Brattle Street, demanding the resignation of the Cambridge members of the Mandamus Council, including Joseph Lee. Giving into the demands of the mob, Lee resigned from his post almost immediately and soon after fled Cambridge with the other loyalists of Tory Row.

In 1777, Lee returned to Cambridge and demanded the return of his property. The Siege of Boston that had ended in March of 1776, marked the end of the Continental Army’s occupation of Cambridge, and Lee’s estate was returned to his care.

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