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It’s a fitting name for a tavern and restaurant in Marblehead, whether the year is 1660 or 2016. Cod are staple New England marine fish, an icon often seen in gold, welcoming guests and representing safety and wealth. Massachusetts even named an entire Cape after them. However, back in 1660 when the original Three Cods Tavern opened for business, the name aimed to lure in local fishermen and boat builders after a hard days work. Located just steps from the harbour on Front Street, the tavern (known then as Three Cods Tavern) kept bodies warm and happy with a roaring fire and flowing whiskey. It quickly became the most popular pub in town.
There are two legends associated with this historic tavern. It is said that during the year 1775 several shots were fired on to the shore from the British warship the H. M.S. Lively. A cannon ball struck the side of the tavern where it was embedded for many years. Legend says that more than a century later the ball was found when the house was renovated, proving the legend’s truth.
The tavern’s rich history doesn’t end there. When the Lively left Marblehead’s harbor, the British frigate, Merlin, took its place. It’s believed that during the switch, a group of marines and officers from the latter ship had a night out at the Three Cods Tavern to unwind. While quite inebriated, several British men decided to vocalize their disdain for the locals, insinuating Americans were cowards. One Marbleheader decided to take matters into his own hands. Local patron Robert Wormsted broke a broom over his knee, raised the handle as if it were a sword and shouted, “Enough of this boasting! I have no weapon but this, but with it I’ll unarm every one of you, taking you singly or collectively!” The group of British seamen accepted his challenge and one by one were disarmed by the solo champion. The British retreated to their ship with their heads down as the bystanders cheered for their local town hero.
Where you sit today, although it looks quite new, is the site of one of the oldest community eateries in Marblehead. Dill’s Restaurant, named after its owner, Glover “Dill” Broughton, opened its doors here in 1946. Dill’s remained one of the most popular dining establishments on the North Shore for more than 30 years. A few other places called this spot home, but none have paid tribute to the rich history of Marblehead, its people, and its folklore, like the new Three Cod Tavern.