This Episcopal church was built in 1723 and is Boston's oldest church building. The steeple is 191 feet tall, making it the tallest steeple in Boston.
The interior high box pews and brass chandeliers, as well as the church's first clock are all original.
Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown sits the Old North Church, stop #13 on the Freedom Trail. Actually, we thought we were heading right for the church and hubby walked across the street to get a picture but it turned out that was a different church that you first walk toward and use the crosswalk in front of in order to head toward Old North. There is a statue of Paul Revere riding away from Old North - just keep following the red line.
It is here that Robert Newman hung the two lanterns to warn of the British approach by sea. Inside are family pews - you can wander around and read the names on each - and a staff person is available to answer any questions. We spent a bit of time here as our baby daughter was hungry and the pews were nice and private.
As most of the other buildings along the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church is still an active part of life, as an Episcopal church.
Boston's oldest church is famous because it is the place that Robert Newman lit two candles to warn the citizens across the Charles River that the British planned to cross by the river and not by land during the American Revolution. The tower (seen in my second picture) is where the lanterns blazed on the night of April 18, 1775 to warn of the plans of the British.
One of the iconic places of the American Revolution is Boston's Old North Church. If you happen to time your visit right, as we did, you'll hear a docent from the pulpit tell the story of the church hand who hung the lanterns for Paul Revere's ride. His instructions were to climb the steeple -- then one of Boston's tallest structures and hang one lamp if the British forces were going to Lexington (where there was an arms cache) by land, two lanterns if by sea. The docent will even point out the window by which he escaped the British troops.
One of the most famous things about the Old North Church is the hanging of the two lanterns back in 1775. The two lanterns informed the patriots in Charlestown that the Brits were leaving Boston by water. (“One if by land, two if by sea.”) On April 18, 1775 Robert Newman sneaked into the empty church to hang two lanterns in the church's belfry. Paul Revere had already left for his famous ride to warn the patriot leaders in the area; the two lanterns were lit in case he was intercepted by the British and prevented from delivering his message. It is also Boston’s oldest surviving church building. I think it’s interesting to see the pews up close and personal. It would have been cold in the church and since there was no central heating, little boxes of embers and firewood would have been placed in the pews to keep the patrons warm during the long services. The church is free to visit although they ask that you make a $3.00 donation.
Remember that line from your high school English class, "One if by land, and two if by sea” by some guy named Longfellow? Well it was from Paul Reverie’s Ride. And referred to when Robert Newman hung two lanterns on the night of April 18, 1775, to signal Paul Revere that British troops were setting out for Lexington and Concord in boats across the Charles River, not on foot. The site of all of this was Old North Church which is officially named Christ Church. Built in 1723, it is also the oldest church building in Boston. The 190-foot spire that sits on the top has long been a reference point for sailors and still appears on navigational charts to this day.
The steeple fell in hurricanes in 1804 and 1954; the current version is an exact copy of the original. The steeple that Newman climbed fell in a hurricane in 1804. The new steeple fell in 1954; the current version is an exact copy of the original.
Walk inside the church and sit in one of the pews, what do you see? If you are not a basketball player you probably can’t see much. These are the tallest pews in the country, and were designed to trap heat from charcoal-burning foot warmers placed under the chilly feet of worshippers in pre-central heat Boston. Check out pew No. 54, this was the Revere family pew. I didn’t see one with my name on it but neither did other famous visitors such as Presidents James Monroe, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Gerald R. Ford, and Queen Elizabeth II. If you’re around on the Sunday closest to April 18 you may catch the descendants of the patriots reenact the raising of the lanterns in the church belfry during a special evening service. Behind the church is the Washington Memorial Garden, where volunteers cultivate a plot devoted to plants and flowers favored in the 18th century.
Visiting Boston for a mid-western person like myself is a mind-opening experience. I don't usually think of the United States as a particularly old country, but undeniably there are places here that have the look and feel of an older European capital. The Old North Churchyard is one of those places.
Old North Church
On April 18th, 1775, Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church displayed two lanterns to warn Paul Revere and others of the British troop movements. Paul Revere's famous "midnight ride" began with that signal, and so did the American War for Independence.
Built in 1723, Old North is the oldest church building in Boston, and continues to serve a thriving, active Episcopal congregation.
Freedom Trail Walking Info :
Once you have crossed Salem Street, follow The Trail up Hull Street to Copp's Hill Burying Ground.
Among Boston's major landmarks, the Old North Church is perhaps the best loved. Constructed in the 1720s, the church was Boston's tallest for a long period of time, defining th skyline with its beautiful, distinctive steeple. The steeple was used to warn colonists of how th British would advance; one lantern if by land and two if by sea were hung in the steeple. The steeple was actually severely damaged by a hurricane in the 1920s and had to be rebuilt. Inside, the church is serene and quiet, its pews boxed off in the traditional style of 18th century Congregational houses of worship. Behind the church are some interesting gardens and the Prado, an Italian-style piazza that stretches past fountains and shade trees to Hanover Street.
I found it strange. Those of you who visited Boston, don't you see something weird on this picture? In the space between the trees supposed to be the Old North Church. Can anybody tell me where it disappeared? ;-)
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