The Paul Revere House  


The Paul Revere Memorial Association rescued and restored the Paul Revere House. The building that had been the patriot's home from 1770-1800 continued for a time as a private home, however, by 1845 it was in full use as a boarding house mostly for transient seamen. The first floor was converted to accommodate shops, at various times a candy store, a cigar store, an Italian bank and a green grocer. The rest of the house was used for tenement apartments. Years of hard use took their toll and the house fell into disrepair. It was described as ...

"a quaint dilapidated wooden house with queer chimneys and overhanging upper story. Looking into the hall through the open doorway, may be seen layers of variegated wallpapers. This is the oldest building in Boston gradually sinking into utter ruin."

Click here for other early images.

Even in this state, the house was still somewhat of a local landmark and tourist attraction. However, the neighborhood and the house's condition made it a candidate for demolition. In 1895 the Paul Revere Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution installed a historical plaque on the house in the hopes of bringing the building special recognition. The attention from the DAR did not result in immediate action and the house's eventual restoration was still unclear. In 1901, a blaze erupted in the basement when an "unwisely hung" kerosene lamp being used to ripen bananas set fire to a cellar beam. Though caught in time, the incident raised considerable concern about the uses to which the home was being put and the possibility for another potentially devastating accident.

Still, it wasn't until December of 1902 that Revere descendent John Phillips Reynolds Jr. (Paul Revere's great, grandson) purchased the property. Reynolds bought the building for $12,000 from Sidney Squires, delaying plans to tear it down and replace it with a tenement apartment. The issue now was how to raise sufficient funds to repay Reynolds and to do the initial restoration.

For the next 6 years, "the old house ... hovered between salvation and destruction." The New York Sun suggested, "If everyone who read Longfellow's poem on Paul Revere's ride will contribute 5 cents, the subscription will soon be closed." In 1905, a group of Revere family members , preservationists, local officials, patriotic groups and others banded together under the name the Paul Revere Memorial Association to raise the $30,000 needed. Their plan:

"to secure as a permanent patriotic memorial the house in which Paul Revere lived on North Square, Boston. The alternative to its restoration is destruction, the effect of which would be to deprive Boston and the whole country of an historical relic which even in its present form has been visited by thousands of patriotic Americans."

The campaign to raise funds bemoaned the loss of other important Boston landmarks - in particular the Hancock House destroyed in 1863 and cited the value of historic sites to the economy.

"Moreover we need them as a sound business investment, adding by just so much to the attractions of our city and state in the eyes of tourists, travelers, and conventions of all kinds."

Just before March 1907, the last tenants moved out and Joseph Chandler, who had been hired to serve as architect of the restoration project, began his work in earnest. In May 1907 the Paul Revere Memorial Association was officially incorporated as a non-profit association dedicated to the preservation of the house and the memory of Paul Revere. The house opened to the public on April 18, 1908. Quickly it became one of the most popular attractions in the city. Click here to see what it looked like on the inside.

In 1970 the Association acquired the neighboring Hichborn House and in 1975 on the eve of the Bicentennial hired its first professional museum director. These actions have allowed the Association to expand its vision while keeping in mind its original goals of preservation and education.

To learn more about our current operation and future plans Click Here

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