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Steps off the Trail

Boston is rich in history and boasts many historic sites the 16 official Freedom Trail historic sites. "Steps off the Trail" historic sites and their history further enriches the Freedom Trail experience. 

Central Burying Ground

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Boston Common

At the Boylston/Tremont corner of the Boston Common lies the Central Burying Ground, dating from 1757. This Burying Ground is the final resting place of Gilbert Stuart, painter of George Washington’s portrait which appears on the one dollar bill. Also interred here are 15 men who took part in the Boston Tea Party, as well as many British Redcoats who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill and during the Siege of Boston. Reinterred here in a mass grave are over 2000 bodies disturbed by the creation of Boston’s subway, just underfoot.

Liberty Tree Site

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Boston Common

Marked by a large bronze plaque on the sidewalk and a bas-relief on the 630 Washington Street building in Chinatown one block down Boylston Street is the site where the Liberty Tree once stood. Hanging effigies of tax collectors on the Liberty Tree on August 14, 1765 is considered one of the first provocative events of the American Revolution. Felled by Redcoats in 1775, the Liberty Tree had been a meeting place and focal point for rallies and protests by the Sons of Liberty and became an important symbol for resistance to British rule.

Black Heritage Trail

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Massachusetts State House

The Black Heritage Trail® begins on Beacon Hill and intersects the Freedom Trail at the monument to the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts on Beacon Street. African-Americans arrived in Boston in February of 1638, eight years after the city was founded. They were brought as slaves, purchased in Providence Isle, a Puritan colony off the coast of Central America. By 1705, there were over 400 slaves in Boston and the beginnings of a free Black community in the North End. The American Revolution was a turning point in the status of Africans in Massachusetts. Many Blacks fought at the battles of Bunker Hill and Lexington and Concord. At the end of the conflict, there were more free Black people than slaves, slavery having ended after Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 adopted the principle that all men have certain inalienable rights. The first federal census in 1790, indicated that Massachusetts was the only state in the Union to record no slaves. This walking Trail includes 14 locations related to this important part of Boston’s history and may be visited with free National Park Service Park Ranger-led tours.

Museum of African American History

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Massachusetts State House

Walk in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Maria Stewart, and all the black and white abolitionist giants who rallied for freedom and equality across the nation from the Colonial period through the 19th century at the Museum of African American Hisotory. Experience the beautifully restored African Meeting House, built by free black craftsmen in 1806 and the oldest black church still standing in the United States. Explore the Abiel Smith School, the oldest public school building for African-American students, now featuring galleries of rotating exhibits, a museum gift store, and tours led by National Park Service Boston African American National Historic Site Park Rangers. The Museum welcomes visitors from around the world to the nation’s most important African-American National Historic Landmarks to hear incredible stories of organized free black communities.  

For more information about the Boston and Nantucket campuses, visit maah.org or call  (617) 725-0022 • 46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill

John Adams Courthouse

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Massachusetts State House

The John Adams Courthouse is headquarters of the Massachusetts judicial branch, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and the Social Law Library, the nation's oldest law library. Named for the patriot who, among his many accomplishments, was the author of the Massachusetts Constitution, and in keeping with his passion for justice, community and learning, the John Adams Courthouse offers many educational opportunities for students and teachers. The Courthouse, a stunning 19th-century structure, has recently undergone historic preservation and is generally open for visitors on normal business days.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Old South Meeting House

The Boston Tea Party, “the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution,” occurred the night of December 16, 1773. Augment a visit to the Old South Meeting House at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum for an incredible journey back in time and become part of the fateful night. Actors in period clothing, high-tech interactive exhibits, authentically restored 18th-century cargo ships, artifacts of historical importance, including the Robinson Half Chest - one of the only two known tea chests still in existence from the Boston Tea Party, and a stirring multi-sensory film are what one will experience on the floating museum overlooking Boston Harbor.

For more information, visit bostonteapartyship.com or call 617-338-1773 • 306 Congress Street 

Blackstone Block

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Faneuil Hall

At the corner of Union and Hanover Streets, the Blackstone Block is the oldest extant city block in the country and a preserved piece of Boston dating to the 18th century. The Capen House, now the Union Oyster House restaurant was built in the early 1700s and housed an importer’s shop that sold silks. During the American Revolution, patriot Isaiah Thomas printed the radical newspaper the Massachusetts Spy from this building before he was forced to flee Boston, crossing the Charles with his printing press in a row boat. Established in 1826, the Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously run restaurant in the country.

Ebenezer Hancock House

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Faneuil Hall

Two doors from the Union Oyster House is the Ebenezer Hancock House, built in the late 1760s by John Hancock. John transferred the title to his younger brother Ebenezer, who would serve as deputy paymaster of the Continental Army. At one point 2.5 million silver crowns, loaned by the French to help pay Washington’s troops, were stored in this building. The Green Dragon pub, a favorite of the Sons of Liberty, was also located here. Set in the wall of the building to the left of the Ebenezer Hancock house is the Boston Stone, a painter’s millstone that has been a Boston landmark since 1734.

Charlestown Navy Yard - Boston

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - USS Constitution 

The Charlestown Navy Yard is an active Unites States Navy base and home to many historic buildings. It is also the headquarters for Boston National Historical Park. The Commandant’s House, built in 1805, is a good example of Navy-Georgian style buildings. USS Cassin Young is a permanently docked World War II destroyer. The visitor center offers an entire history of the Navy Yard from 1800 to the present.

Walk to the Sea Trail

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Along the Freedom Trail

The one-mile stretch from Beacon Hill to State Street, in the Financial District, to Long Wharf including the historic Gardiner Building - Boston's oldest wharf building and now home to The Chart House restaurant - on the harbor features glass and steel panels with historic maps and stories of how the geography of eight Boston locations along the route have been changed over time. See the remarkable land transformation of this small hilly peninsula into a great modern city.

Historic Charlestown

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Closest Freedom Trail historic site - Bunker Hill Monument 

Charlestown, now a neighborhood of Boston, was settled a few years before Boston and is home to many historic sites. In City Square Park, are the foundations of the Great House, built for Governor John Winthrop in 1629. It was destroyed by the British during the bombardment of Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. On Pleasant Street near the Bunker Hill Monument stands the Warren Tavern, 1780, and is thought to be one of the first buildings raised after the bombardment. Named for revolutionary leader and Bunker Hill casualty, Dr. Joseph Warren, the tavern became the home of Charlestown’s first Masonic Lodge in 1794, of which Paul Revere was an active member and later Grandmaster. Revere called the tavern his favorite place. George Washington stopped by the tavern for refreshment in 1789 when visiting Boston after being elected president. The Warren Tavern still operates today as a restaurant and bar.

Dorchester Heights

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Off the Freedom Trail - South Boston

The monument, built in 1902 commemorates the placement of cannon in early March 1776 which forced the British to evacuate Boston ten days later on March 17. It was the last leg of Major General Henry Knox’s monumental trek, The Noble Train of Artillery, with a cache or armaments and 59 much-needed cannons from Fort Ticonderoga. The password in Washington’s camp in nearby Cambridge that March 17 was Boston and the countersign was St. Patrick. Dorchester Heights was annexed to Boston in the 19th century and the neighborhood became home to many of Boston’s Irish. Today the annual Evacuation Day - on March 17, the Feast of St. Patrick - celebrates the end of English rule in Boston.