United States

Medford Distillery and Refining Company

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History

From article Old Medford Rum by Ricky, age 13 & Jared, age 13

The first known person to make rum in Medford was John Hall. He owned land on the north side of Riverside Avenue, which is where, with some friends, he made the rum, from 1715-1720. He made the rum in a still built over a spring. In the year 1735, John sold this business to his brother Andrew. Andrew continued the business until his death in 1750. Benjamin, Andrew's son also worked in the distillery. When Andrew died, Benjamin was 21 years old. He took over the business and continued to make rum for 51 years. In 1777, Medford rum sold for 3 shillings and 10 pence a gallon. It wasn't a very profitable business at this price, but the rum continued to be made.

While Medford was celebrating its 275th anniversary on June 15, 1905 the Lawrence family made it known that the distillery was going to be closed.


Rum manufacturing started in Medford in 1715 and continued until four distilleries, owned mostly by fathers and sons, operated in the downtown area.

The first distillery, built in 1715 by John Hall, remained in the family until 1801. It was located on the northern side of Riverside Avenue between Medford Square and River Street. (This location was chosen because of the clear spring water that rose from the ground there.) The Isaac distillery stood on the east side of River Street, beside the cemetery. Bishop distillery stood on Riverside Avenue opposite River Street near the Mystic River. The Blanchard distillery, which stood near the corner of Mystic Valley Parkway and Main Street, distilled anise-seed, snake-root clove-water as well as rum.

In 1824 Daniel Lawrence purchased the John Hall distillery which by then was the only active distillery remaining in Medford. Daniel’s son, General Samuel Lawrence, was its sole proprietor from 1867 until it closed. General Lawrence never divulged his reasons for the closing.

From 1817 until 1893 the section of Riverside Avenue between Route #93 and Medford Square was known as "Distill House Lane." Medford rum was a product of the triangular trade during the colonial era and continued as a hallmark of fine rum for nearly 200 years.

[Source: Medford Chamber of Commerce, cit. 2004]

One of Medford’s most respected citizens, General Samuel C. Lawrence, was born November 22, 1832 to Daniel and Elizabeth (Crocker) Lawrence. Educated in the Medford Public Schools, he graduated in 1847. In 1855 he received his degree from Harvard College. After a short business venture in Chicago, he returned to Medford in 1858 and joined the family distillery of Daniel Lawrence and Sons. He married Carrie Rebecca Badger in 1859.

Two years after the Civil War, Samuel Lawrence became sole owner of the Medford Rum Distillery until he closed it in 1907. In 1869 he became commander of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

[Source: Medford Chamber of Commerce, cit. 2004]


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Last modified: April 9, 2006 Created by Petr Hloušek
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