The Red Lion Inn Tavern Sign – A Palimpsest

This sign originally hung in front of the Red Lion Inn Tavern, built by Captain John Heald in 1771, which stood on the west side of what was then Groton Road and is now West Street, when that portion of Carlisle was part of Concord. It is thought to have functioned as a tavern until the advent of automobiles at the end of the 19th century. In the winter of 1934-5, the building was moved across the street, where it now stands, a privately owned dwelling.

The sign, painted on a single wide board, originally showed a crowned lion rampant, but at some point- probably near the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775 – the lion, being a symbol of England, was scrubbed off, and an elm tree painted over it, and the tavern was rechristened the Liberty Tree Tavern. Nevertheless, on the sign the lion is still quite visible (Can you see it?), presumably because the paint protected the wood underneath while the unpainted surround was left to weather. This is a palimpsest, a word formed from the Greek words meaning to scratch again, first applied to wax tablets used by the Romans for writing.

This sign was on loan to the Historical Society through the courtesy of Janet Lovejoy and her daughter Hillary.

Historical Guide To Carlisle – Interactive Map

David Jiang, is a Carlisle Boy Scout Troop 135 Eagle Scout candidate.  For his 2016 Eagle Project, David has created a interactive map of fifty historical Carlisle sites based on research done by the Bicentennial Commission in 1975.  The map’s interactive links provide historical background and photographs these historical treasures.

My hope for this map is to create a simple and accessible way for everyone to learn about the past that defined the town we live in. From colonial homesites of minutemen from centuries past, to the ancient foundations of what were once grist mills, mines, or schoolhouses, each one of these sites represented an important aspect of life in the past that molded who we are in the present. Even though many of these sites have long disappeared, I hope everyone: from longtime residents of Carlisle to newcomers, grade schoolers to the very old, will be able to learn something new or reconnect with our town’s extraordinarily rich yet overlooked past. I wish to ignite a renewal of appreciation and interest in our past, and encourage everyone seek out their own discoveries, as this project is only a beginning. 

David Jiang


Family: Kathy Guo, Liang Yuan, Yiming Yang, Walter Yang

Carlisle Troop 135 Volunteers: Daniel Jiang, Rowan O’Connor, Aidan O’Connor, Jacob Burke, Matthew Roberts, Tanner Bucklew, William Chaffin, Matthew Li, Aaron Gao, Joshua Sun

Other Volunteers: Philip Drew, Nick Chase, Alejandro Cancio (Troop 132 Concord), Deb Burke, Blake Wesel, Caitlin O’Connor, Dawn Buckelew, Jic Davis


Carlisle Historical Society Antique Loom Project

At the end of the summer in 2015, Pat Laskey, a Carlisle resident and former antique dealer, donated to the Historical Society a handmade rug loom, whose pieces had resided in her garage and attic for nearly 40 years.  It is an imposing piece, around six feet high with a footprint of five by six feet.  Pat had acquired it from a woman who had an antique shop across the street from what is now Fern’s, and her supposition was that it probably dated from the 18th Century and was made and used somewhere in New England.  Nancy Kronenberg, also a Carlisle resident, an avid professional weaver and member of the Weavers’ Guild of Boston, was greatly intrigued by the loom and launched her own investigation with friends and acquaintances from the Guild.  Their investigation concluded the loom’s design design is typical of the northern Acadia which includes Maine.  They call this French Canadian Acadia to distinguish from Lousiania Acadia.  It was built in the early part of the 19th Century, and that it was not primarily used for weaving rugs but also was used for weaving cloth.

 Nancy has undertaken the task of restoring the loom to working order.  Besides cleaning up the loom’s accumulation of grime and dust, which diminish its usefulness for new work, she has initiated construction of missing pieces, a project undertaken by Stephen Till, also a Carlisle resident, using old-growth pine to match the rest of the loom, and set about finding usable components that have survived from the presumable time that the loom was originally built.  A few parts must be replaced because the existing parts are warped or broken, but the old parts will be retained for display along with the restored loom.  Nancy has taken multiple photos and kept careful records of her conversations with other weaver, all of which are on display on her website, Rosepath Weaving.  You can access more information and photos by clicking this link. Carlisle Historical Society Antique Loom Project




The Boston Post Cane

In 1909, the Boston Post, a newspaper that circulated in the New England states, presumably to gain publicity, gave a black-ebony, gold-headed cane to the governing bodies of 700 towns in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine with instructions that each cane was to be given to the oldest living male citizen in that town. The Carlisle Selectmen duly received a cane, which was awarded to George Warren Wilkens.  The recipient was expected to keep the cane until he died or moved out of town, at which time the Selectmen would award the cane to the next oldest male citizen.  In 1930, after considerable controversy, the terms were expanded to include women.


Carlisle’s cane is still extant and currently resides in the office of the Council on Aging in the Town Hall.  Until recently it was held by Edwin Sadler, who died this year at 105.  With his passing, a new plan has been adopted: the original cane, after refurbishing, will reside permanently with the COA, and a replica cane, purchased through the generosity of those who remembered Mr. Sadler, will be given to the oldest citizen of Carlisle.  On April 9, Ms. Clara DiNicola, now 98, received the new cane.


Unfortunately, most of the history of recipients of the cane has been lost, and the Carlisle Historical Society and the Council on Aging have been trying to find the names of recipients over the past century.  Largely through the efforts of Angela Smith, director of the COA, a partial list has been compiled:


  • George Warren Wilkens: received it in 1909 and passed on Jan 22-1911
  • George West: received it in 1959 and passed June 29, 1965
  • James Patch received it in 1965 and passed August 23, 1972
  • Edmund Lewis French received it on July 11, 1973, and passed on May 1982
  • Phyllis Towle received it on March 30, 1983, but her date of passing is uncertain (1998?)
  • Anna Johnson received it on June 14, 2002, and passed on June 28, 2005
  • Ruth Waywell received it in 2005 and passed on December 26, 2008
  • Edwin M. Sadler received it on March 24, 2009, and passed on January 27, 2013
  • Clara DiNicola received it on April 9, 2013


The Society and the Council on Aging will be grateful for any additional information that may be available from townspeople.

Museum Open at Heald House on the Third Sunday of Every Month

Carlisle’s Historical Artifacts on Display

The Heald House will be open to the public from 2:00 pm till 5:00 pm on the third Sunday of each month,  During these hours the various artifacts that have been assembled over the past century or more are on display in several rooms of the house, including pots, pans, toasters, and ovens clustered ‘round the fireplace; tools for carding, spinning and weaving of wool, cotton, and linen; examples of needlework and other crafts; tools of farming, husbandry, and light industry; items from the home of Dr. Austen Marsh, who practiced medicine in Carlisle for sixty years ending in 1900; clothes worn by former citizens of Carlisle; a horse-drawn hearse built in the 1860s; and many other items from a more primitive time.

Admission is free and refreshments are available.