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Old North Church

Christ Church in the City of Boston, also known as Old North Church, is the oldest standing church building in Boston, having first opened its doors to worshippers on December 29, 1723. Its 191 foot steeple is the tallest in Boston and, because of its prominence, would play a dramatic role in the American Revolution.

Gen. Thomas Gage had made secret plans to send troops to seize rebel munitions stored in Lexington and Concord and to arrest John Hancock and Sam Adams. The Sons of Liberty discovered the plot and devised their own plan to have Paul Revere and William Dawes warn the countryside of the arrival of the British army.

On April 18, 1775 Paul Revere met up with sexton Robert Newman to tell him how many lanterns to display in the Old North Church's steeple to signal how British troops were advancing. Newman then met fellow Sons of Liberty Capt. Pulling and Thomas Bernard. Leaving Bernard to keep watch outside, Newman opened the church and he and Pulling climbed the stairs and ladders up eight stories to hang two lanterns for a few moments. It was long enough for patriots in Charlestown to learn what has been immortalized by the phrase One if by land, two if by sea in Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride. The British were advancing by boat across the Charles River. These lanterns heralded the battles of Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the American Revolution.

The Old North Church steeple has been blown down twice by hurricanes - once in 1804 and again in 1954. On the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church is an active Episcopal church today.

A GRAVE MISTAKE In the basement of Old North are 37 crypts containing the remains of over 1000 former members of the Church’s congregation. One notable, Major John Pitcairn, a British hero who lead the Redcoats at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Pitcairn was buried beneath Old North but was scheduled to be sent home to England’s Westminster Abbey. Lt. Shea was sent instead by accident.

HIGHLY IRREGULAR Paul Revere would not have cried The British are coming! during his famous midnight ride. In those days, colonists were all British. If he uttered anything, it was more likely The Regulars are out! British soldiers were known as Regulars, Redcoats, or Lobsterbacks.

Printing Office of Edes and Gill - living history of 18th century print shop using antique press similar to Paul Revere's
Open: Mid April - May, Fridays - Sundays 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; June - Oct, daily 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Closed: Nov. - March

Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tour — North End
African-American Patriots Tour
Walk Into History — Joint ticket for Behind the Scenes Tour

Old North Church- Boston National Historical Park
193 Salem St.
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-4848
January - February: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
March - May: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
July - October: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
November - December: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Free history presentation: special Behind the Scenes Tour $5, $4 for children
Worship services: Sundays 9:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.

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