The Paul Revere House  

Paul Revere House

The Paul Revere House is the oldest building in downtown Boston. Thehome was built about 1680 on the site of the former parsonage of theSecond Church of Boston. It stood just one block from the water,overlooking North Square. The first owner of the two-story townhouse wasRobert Howard, a wealthy merchant. When Paul Revere bought the home in1770, a third story had been added to the 90-year-old building. Thisadded space was ideal for his growing family who moved here from theirresidence near Clark's Wharf. Revere worked as a silversmith at his ownshop that was only two blocks away.

From this house on the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere, amessenger rider and member of the Sons of Liberty, left for his famousMidnight Ride to Lexington. At the parsonage of Reverend Jonas Clarke,Revere warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the Regulars were outand on their way to arrest the patriot leaders and seize the colony'sstore of weapons and gunpowder. This event was later immortalized in thepoem "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Afterthe Revolution, Revere expanded his business interests and became one ofAmerica's first industrialists. He had opened a foundry by 1788, andproduced bolts, spikes, nails, and cannons. After 1792 he cast bells,including one for Boston's King's Chapel that still rings today. In1801, he opened the first copper rolling mill in North America where heproduced copper sheeting for the hull of the U.S.S. Constitutionand for the dome of the new Massachusetts State House in 1803.

Paul Revere sold his three-story home in North Square in 1800. As theyears passed, it began to deteriorate along with the rest of theneighborhood. At various times, it served as a boarding house, a cigarstore, an Italian bank, and a green grocer. By the early 20th century,there was some fear that the house might be torn down and replaced witha tenement apartment. In 1902, a Revere descendent bought the propertyand a few years later, a group of Revere family members,preservationists, and local officials formed the Paul Revere MemorialAssociation and raised the funds needed to restore the home to itsoriginal 1680 appearance. It opened to the public on April 18, 1908.Today, it is a wonderful museum that pays tribute to the memory of PaulRevere. Inside, you can view samples of his silver work, and in thecourtyard you'll see a 900 pound bronze bell cast at the Revere Foundryin 1804.

Visitor Information:
Open 9:30 AM to 5:15 PM (mid April - October 31); 9:30 AM to 4:15PM (November 1 - April 14)
Closed on Mondays in January, February and March
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
(617) 523-2338, www.paulreverehouse.org
Modest admission fee (see combination ticket)

Old North Church

The Old North Church, or Christ Church in Boston, was built in 1723. Thewalls of the church are over 2 � feet thick, and the building containsover 500,000 bricks! At 191 feet, its steeple has always been Boston'stallest. The original steeple was blown down by a hurricane in 1804, andits replacement was blown down in a similar storm 150 years later.Today, the steeple of Boston's oldest church matches its originalcolonial design. Inside the building's brick tower, are the first pealof eight bells brought to English America. They were cast in 1744 andstill ring today. On the front of the tower, a tablet commemorates anhistoric event that took place here in 1775. It helped make the church apatriotic landmark.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, from the northwest window of ChristChurch steeple, sexton Robert Newman held two lanterns aloft to warn thepatriots in Charlestown of the British troops' march to Lexington andConcord. This signal, the brainchild of Paul Revere, occurred as he wasbeing rowed across the Charles River to begin his Midnight Ride.Visitors to Old North today can view the window near the altar thatRobert Newman climbed out after he displayed the lanterns. The inside ofthe church has changed very little over the past 250 years. The high boxpews have plaques bearing the names of their original occupants. Twobrass chandeliers with 12 candles on each hang above the central aisle.They have illuminated the church for evening services since 1724.

Visitor Information:
Open daily 9 AM to 5 PM, hours extended to 6 PM during thesummer
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
(617) 523-6676, www.oldnorth.com
Admission is free (Donations Accepted)

Copp's Hill Burying Ground

Located on the highest piece of land in the North End, Copp's HillBurying Ground is Boston's second oldest cemetery. It became a burialground in 1660, and is named after 17th-century shoemaker William Copp,the property's original owner. In colonial Boston, Copp's Hill was muchhigher, extending as a cliff to the water's edge. Standing atop thiscliff, one could view several of the town's shipyards and wharves, andsee Charlestown just across the Charles River. From this location, inJune 1775, British troops bombarded Charlestown during the Battle ofBunker Hill. In 1807, the upper section of Copp's Hill was removed andused as landfill for Mill Pond.

When British troops were encamped on Copp's Hill, they used the grave markersof patriots they disliked for target practice. Today, their musketballmarks can be clearly seen on the marker of Captain Daniel Malcom, amember of the Sons of Liberty. Malcom, who died in 1769, asked to beburied "in a Stone Grave 10 feet deep" safe from British bullets. Thisrequest is noted on his headstone. Notable people buried at Copp's Hillare Robert Newman, the Christ Church sexton who displayed the signallanterns; Prince Hall, a freed slave and founder of the African GrandLodge of Massachusetts; Increase and Cotton Mather, Puritan ministers;and Edmund Hartt, builder of the USS Constitution.

Visitor Information:
Open daily 9 AM to 5 PM (Spring - Fall), 9 AM to 3 PM (Winter)
Admission is free

USS Constitution

At the Charlestown Navy Yard, you can visit the USS Constitution,one of the first vessels in the U.S. Navy and the oldest commissionedwarship afloat in the world. Launched in the fall of 1797, the USSConstitution is two hundred four feet in length, has fifty-fourguns, and carried a crew of 450 men. She was built mainly of live oak from thesea islands of Georgia. This rare wood was five times stronger thanwhite oak and made the hull of the ship incredibly strong. When theConstitution battled the British vessel H.M.S. Guerriereduring the War of 1812, cannonballs bounced off her hull and a seamancried "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!" Crewmen began calling her"Old Ironsides" and the name stuck. The USS Constitution was inforty battles and was never beaten.

Because she was made of wood, the Constitution eventually beganto deteriorate, and by 1830 she had become unseaworthy. Congress soonappropriated funds to restore her. During the mid 1800s, theConstitution, now obsolete in warfare, played a symbolic role forthe nation. She sailed around the world in 1844-45. By 1905, the shipwas in need of serious repair once again. Congress passed a bill torepair the vessel but provided no funds. In 1925, public fundraisingefforts began and school children from across the United States donatedpennies to save the ship. Congress finally provided additional funds tocomplete the restoration of "Old Ironsides."

After her restoration, USS Constitution was towed to many U.S.ports in the Pacific during the years 1931-34. After the journey, shereturned to her home port of Boston where she would remain. The shipreceived a complete overhaul from 1992-97, just in time for her 200thbirthday. On July 21, 1997, USS Constitution celebrated thatbirthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years! On thathistoric day, the seamen aboard her hoisted a partial set of six sailson her masts, and the citizens of Boston cheered as their beloved shipsailed once again off the coast of Massachusetts.

Visitor Information:
Open Spring and Summer, Tues-Sun, 10 AM - 4 PM
(617) 242-7511, www.oldironsides.com
Admission is free
Also be sure to visit the USS Constitution Museum
Open daily, admission is free
www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org

Bunker Hill

The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on nearby Breed's Hill inCharlestown, Massachusetts. Today, a 221-foot granite monument stands onthe site where this, the first major battle of the Revolutionary Wartook place. On June 17, 1775, an American regiment of nearly 1,500 menwere entrenched in an impressive earthwork fort atop Breed's Hill. Itwas a terribly hot day with temperatures well into the nineties. TheAmericans were lead by Colonel William Prescott, Colonel John Stark, andGeneral Israel Putnam. Colonel Prescott told his men "Don't fire untilyou see the whites of their eyes!" Two thousand British soldiersadvanced uphill toward the American position and were turned back twice.During a third assault, the defenders' ammunition finally ran out andthe British and Americans fought hand-to-hand, with the British usingbayonettes. In furious fighting, the British overtook the Americans.

The battle was a British victory, but privately, they viewed the lossestheir army sustained as greater than they could bare. Over one thousandBritish troops, including many officers, were either killed or wounded.A patriot general, Nathaniel Greene, noted "I wish I could sell themanother hill at the same price." American losses were 441 men, the mostwell-known casualty being patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren who waskilled during the third assault. Although he held the rank of majorgeneral,Warren fought in the battle as a gentleman volunteer. Today, a beautifulmarble statue of him stands inside the Bunker Hill Monument. Here, youcan learn more about the battle and scale the 294 steps that lead to theobservatory at the top of the monument. From this location, you can peerout the windows and view the harbor and surrounding towns.

Visitor Information:
Exhibit open daily 9 AM to 5 PM; monument open for climbing from 9AM to 4:30 PM
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
www.nps.gov
Admission is free

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Photography by: Ben Edwards

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