In 1740 Jason Russell (1716–1775), a farmer, constructed the core of the house beside the Concord Road. He built two rooms, one over the other, with house front facing southward, and chimney and stairs at the north. Perhaps five or ten years later, he added two more rooms to form a typical New England farmhouse. The central part of the house is essentially unchanged today, although further extensions were subsequently added to the left side. Across the front are five windows, with door at center, and large chimney in the middle of a pitched roof. About 1814 an enclosed porch was added to the front door.
On April 19, 1775, the house was the site of the bloodiest encounter in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. As the British troops marched back towards Boston, heavy fighting occurred along their route through Arlington (then Menotomy). Lord Percy gave orders to clear every dwelling to eliminate snipers, and houses along the way were ransacked and set afire by the retreating British. The running battle continued to Jason Russell's house, where Russell joined men from Beverly, Danvers, Lynn, Salem, Dedham, and Needham at his house.
Russell, age 59, pleaded for help to defend his house, saying "An Englishman's home is his castle." Hampered by his game leg, he was shot down and bayoneted on his own doorstep. An additional eleven colonials were killed during the skirmish; bullet holes still show in the cellar way, parlor, and guest room. Two Redcoats were also killed. Russell and nine of the colonial dead were buried in the nearby Old Burying Ground, where an obelisk was erected to their memory in 1818.
If you would like to take a tour of the house, please see the hours listed on the Arlington Historical Society web site.