54 Brattle Street was built in 1808 by a local blacksmith named Torrey Hancock. In 1827, Hanock would sell the house to Dexter Pratt, another blacksmith who apparently had huge muscles that were “strong as iron bands.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived up the street, would immortalize the man who banged away at hot metal “under the spreading chestnut tree” at 54 Brattle in the poem “The Village Blacksmith.”
Years later, the house would be purchased by a freed slave named Mary Walker. Mary had escaped from her owners while on a trip to Philadelphia, but would not move to the house until after the Civil War, in 1870 when a relative of a woman she had nursed bought the place for her. Her family remained in the house until 1912 when it became a popular restaurant with Harvard students, probably from its name: Cock Horse Inn.
After World War II, the house became a bakery and restaurant that had been started as a way to help refugees from Europe hold gainful employment. It was one of the first, if not the first, establishments in Cambridge to hire African American women, as well.
Finally, in 1972, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education would purchase and restore the building. Today, it remains in the hands the CCAE.