Descriptive Essay for my Dual Credit English class. This one was kinda fun.


Hanson's Coffee House

Down a cobblestone street in Beacon Hill, Boston, there is a small, old red brick shop. The black shutters that cover the windows are accented by flower boxes, overflowing with bright yellow flowers that bring a certain charm to an otherwise ordinary building. Above the door, a wooden sign swings freely, distinguishing it from the other shops. The words "Hanson's Coffee House" are carved in a simple script. It is a favorite for the local residents. Upon opening the heavy oaken door, the wafting scent of fresh brewed coffee and baking scones would welcome a passerby to rest here for a moment.

Past the hard, wooden beams of the entrance is a large room with hand hewn tables that are spread from wall to wall. Men sit on the cedar benches and chatter away loudly, each with a pewter mug in his hand. The company ranges from farmers to politicians; some dressed in cotton breeches and dirty tri-corner hats, and others with powdered wigs and brass buttoned overcoats. A few slaves stand by their respective masters, waiting for any orders that should be given to them. Very few women walk in and those who do are merchants' wives with mop caps and cloth handbags, coming to by a few pounds of tea or coffee to take back home. The landlord's own wife stays upstairs in the living quarters, sewing or supervising the house servants.

The landlord isn't one who is hard to spot among the crowd. With a coffee stained apron covering his bulging stomach and a large grin peeking behind his salt-and-pepper beard, no one feels unwelcome. His loud, baritone voice shouting at his apprentices can be heard throughout the shop, to which the young boys are seen scampering hither and thither.

Draped across a rack are a few quilts sewn by the landlady and her maids. More hand quilted blankets hang up on the walls to give the room color. They are vastly different from the brown homespun bags full of coffee that the apprentices carry over their shoulders into the kitchen. The smaller bags and containers are placed in the cupboards beneath the bar to keep at hand.

As nighttime finally creeps its way through the door, the landlord lights the room. He places a certain number of candles in the big window that overlooks the street, depending on the company inside, and one candle for each separate table. The warm glow emitted from the burning wickers welcomes customers deep into the night.

To most people, Hanson's Coffee House is a warm and comforting place to be. The friendly atmosphere only serves to bring customers back to the old building. There is, however, a deeper meaning to this coffee house because it isn't just an ordinary shop. Hanson's Coffee House is a patriot's hideaway.

As patriots are in danger of being tried for treason, they must be very thorough and very careful. Even the slightest hint where their loyalties lie can be dangerous. Secret signs are made to signal to another patriot that he or she is safe within those walls. Beneath the words "Hanson's Coffee House" is a small engraving carved into the wood. It depicts tea being spilled from a cup. What would be considered a normal signature for a coffee house, is actually promoting the Boston Tea Party. Even with this sign of goodwill, though, the landlord's fellow patriots must be careful of any soldiers that might be enjoying themselves at the moment. In truth, it is safer to meet in the dark of the night, when thin, wispy clouds cover the moon.

As the lights are lit for the evening, four candles in the large window, built especially to watch for soldiers, warn of the Loyalists enjoying themselves. Two candles, however, signal the safety of the house at the moment. If the shop is clear, and a passerby walks in, the landlord will smile and utter in a low voice, "The moon is bright tonight" to which the possible customer will respond, "Shadows, however, can hide from its beams." If the phrase is said correctly, the newly revealed patriot will be led to behind the bar. Homespun bags are moved aside and the cupboard to the far left is opened, revealing a secret pathway. The stairs wind down beneath the cold stone of the coffee house's foundation to a small room, a little bigger than a large pantry. The creaking of the old rotting steps warns the patriots gathering below.

This is not the only secret of the old coffee house, though. All day, the landlady sews for the men in the Continental Army. She and her maids toil on stockings and breeches to warm those without proper clothing. The colorful quilts hanging on the walls of their shop hide compartments built within the walls, filled with ammunition. Walking up the old wooden staircase leading to the living quarters, there is one step that sounds hollow. Upon lifting the board, one would find hundreds of letters. There is an illustration drawn in the corner on each sheet of reed parchment, the same as the insignia from the swinging, wooden sign.

In an old shop that welcomes anyone that happens to walk in, a person could not think ill of the middle-aged couple running it. Treason is punishable by death in Colonial America, however, true patriots are not afraid to pursue their not-so-distant dream of freedom.