DANVERS, Mass. — A tea party was not held on the roof of the Jeremiah Page House on Wednesday afternoon, as it had been in 1770, but on its lawn and on the internet.
Lisa Steigerwalt, chairwoman of the Danvers Historical Society’s Tea and History program, dressed as tea party protagonist Sarah Page. Her in-person guests wore masks and sat six feet apart to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19.
Other guests, connected via Facebook Live, were encouraged to dress in their best tea time attire and raise a cup to Page from home.
It was the 250th anniversary of the famed protest, which occurred up on the roof of the house on Page Street three years before the Boston Tea Party in December 1773. The house today serves as the local historical society's headquarters in this community about 15 miles north of Boston.
With the British imposing a tea tax in 1770, local patriot and bricklayer Jeremiah Page vowed not to drink tea. He told his wife, “None shall drink tea inside my house,” according to area poet Lucy Larcom’s 1876 poem, “A Gambrel Roof.”
Sarah Page, not wanting to disobey her husband but still having some tea left over, invited friends to tea when he was away. She brought them on the roof for a tea party and famously told them: “Upon a house is not within it.”
In the Facebook broadcast, society volunteer Amy Driscoll played a reporter pretending to travel back in time to meet Sarah Page.
“I daresay, upon a lawn is not within a house,” Steigerwalt told her. “Had I thought of that earlier, it would have been a much easier thing to have the tea than upon a gambrel roof.”
Watch the tea party and learn more about the Danvers Historical Society at facebook.com/danvershistory.