In 1688, the Royal Governor built King’s Chapel on the town burying ground when no one in the city would sell him land to build a non-Puritan church. Boston's first King’s Chapel was a tiny church used by the King’s men who occupied Boston to enforce British law. By 1749, the building was too small for the congregation, which had grown to include a number of prominent merchants and their families. The present stone structure was built around the original wooden church, which was then disassembled and thrown piece by piece out the windows of the new construction. King's Chapel, located on the Freedom Trail, is an active Ecumenical Church affiliated with the UUA.
The congregation hired America’s first architect, Peter Harrison, to design a church "that would be the equal of any in England." The new church was completed in 1754. Harrison’s plans included a steeple, which has never been built, and a colonnade, which was not completed until after the Revolution. The magnificent interior is considered the finest example of Georgian church architecture in North America. The church’s exterior columns appear to be stone, but, in fact, are painted wood, a cost-saving trompe l’oeil.
UNLUCKY 13 There is a legend that says prisoners condemned to hang on Boston Common could say their last prayers in King’s Chapel’s 13th pew, or the pew of the condemned. No one knows where pew #13 was located in the Chapel during the time of the Revolution. Whatever its location, it was one of the last unlucky stops for those on their way to the gallows.
Corner of Tremont and School Streets
Parish House: 617-227-2155, Chapel: 617-523-1749
Summer Hours: Mon., Thu. - Sat. 10:00- 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays the church closes at 11:30 a.m. for Midweek Recital and Midweek Service, but re-opens again at 1:30 p.m. for tours.
Winter Hours: Same as summer hours, except we close at 4 p.m.
Sundays: 1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. in winter)
Services: Wed. 12:15 p.m. and Sun. 11:00 a.m.
Concerts at King's Chapel: Tue. 12:15 p.m., Sun. 5:00 p.m. (see website for performers)