The Paul Revere House  

The Old Corner Bookstore Building

In 1712, Thomas Crease built a brick home on the corner of what would become School and Washington streets. It served as his residence and Boston's first apothecary shop. In the 1820s the Crease house was purchased by William B. Ticknor who turned it into a bookshop. Ticknor paid royalties to British authors and obtained the rights to publish their works. In 1833, he went into partnership with a book clerk named James T. Fields who helped the company sign contracts with New England authors. From 1833 to 1864, the firm of Ticknor and Fields was the leading publisher in the United States. Its list of well known authors included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau. These writers often gathered at the Old Corner Bookstore, as did their English counterparts, including Charles Dickens.

After Ticknor and Fields left the building, it became a location for several other booksellers. By the mid 1900s, one of Boston's oldest structures was serving as a pizza parlor and showing its age. With financial assistance from the Boston Globe, Historic Boston, Inc. purchased the building in 1960 and restored it. Today their offices are located on the second floor where they continue their efforts to preserve historic sites in Boston. The first floor housed the Boston Globe Store until very recently when it relocated. At present, no new tenant has been announced for one of Boston's most recognized buildings.

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Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House stands on Washington Street and is the second oldest church building in Boston. It was built in 1729, housed a Congregational parish, and remained an active church until 1872. The brick building features a tower clock installed in 1770, Palladian windows, and a 180-foot wooden steeple. Old South was the largest building in Colonial Boston and often used for gatherings that were too large for Faneuil Hall. One such gathering occurred on March 6, 1775 when patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren delivered a moving oration in honor of those killed five years earlier in the Boston Massacre. The meeting house was packed so tightly for the event that Warren had to climb in through a window behind the pulpit to make his address.

The most famous meeting at Old South occurred on the afternoon of December 16, 1773. Thousands of Bostonians who filled the building and spilled into the streets listened to Samuel Adams and others speak about non-importation and colonial rights. Three British vessels with a shipment of tea in their holds were docked at Griffin's Wharf that day. The anxious crowd demanded that the ships return to England without leaving their cargo. As darkness fell, word came from Governor Hutchinson that the tea must be unloaded and the tax paid. From the pulpit of Old South, Samuel Adams then spoke the immortal words that would result in the Boston Tea Party ... "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." Sons of Liberty dressed as Mohawk Indians marched to Griffin's Wharf, boarded the three British ships, and threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

Over the years, Old South has shown a knack for survival. During the siege of Boston, the British gutted it, burned the pews, and used the building as a riding school. Old South survived fires in 1810 and 1872, and was destined for demolition in 1875 when concerned citizens stepped in, formed an Old South Association, and raised the money needed to save the building. Today, the association continues to operate Old South as a museum. It is the site of lectures, meetings, concerts, plays, and church services. Recent construction has added air conditioning, educational space, and one of the nicest gift shops in Boston. A wonderful audio program takes visitors back in time where they can relive history and listen in on the meeting that took place here just before the Boston Tea Party.

Visitor Information:
Open April-Oct, 9:30 AM - 5 PM daily; Nov-Mar, 10 AM - 4 PM daily
(617) 482-6439,
Modest admission fee (see combination ticket)

Old State House

The Old State House, originally called the Town House, was built in 1713 and located close to Long Wharf near Boston's waterfront. Situated at the head of King Street, the Town House was the symbol of Royal authority in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the location of the British government in Boston. Official proclamations were made to the townspeople from its second floor balcony, and statues of a lion and a unicorn (symbols of the King's power) stood atop the brick building. The governor and other royal officials met here, but it was also the home of the Massachusetts Assembly, a body elected by the people. In 1766, they debated the Stamp Act before the public here, and for the first time, common people could see their elected officials at work.

On July 18, 1776, from the balcony of the Town House, Colonel Thomas Crafts read the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of Boston from a copy that had just arrived from Philadelphia. Artillery pieces fired, bells rang, and there was a great celebration. Later that day, the royal symbols of the lion and the unicorn were removed from the building and burned in a bonfire in Dock Square. Soon afterward, King Street was renamed State Street and the Town House was called the State House.

Shortly after the Revolution, the Massachusetts' government moved from the State House to the New State House building on Beacon Hill. Its former home, now referred to as the Old State House, eventually fell into disrepair and some even urged that it be demolished. In 1881, the citizens of Chicago offered to purchase it and move it "brick by brick" to their city. This outraged Bostonians and they decided to preserve this historic landmark for future generations right here in Boston. Since 1882, the Old State House has been a museum run by the Bostonian Society that features many wonderful exhibits on Boston's colorful history. Here you can see a suit of clothes that belonged to John Hancock and the wool flag with nine red and white stripes that was flown to assemble the Sons of Liberty under Liberty Tree. Today, replicas of the original lion and unicorn are back in place, installed during the restoration in 1882.

Visitor Information:
Open daily 9 AM to 5 PM (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day)
(617) 720-1713 ext. 21,
Modest admission fee (see combination ticket)

Boston Massacre Site

In front of the balcony of the Old State House, in a traffic island, a circle of paving stones with a star at its center marks the location of the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770. On that fateful evening, hatred for the Redcoats who had occupied Boston since the fall of 1768, reached a high point. An angry crowd gathered near the Town House where they surrounded and taunted a lone British soldier. Fearing for his safety, a rescue party of eight men, led by Captain Thomas Preston, soon came to the soldier's aid. Once there, Preston and his men also became trapped by the growing mob.

The crowd moved closer to the soldiers, waved wooden clubs, taunted them, and cursed at them. Snowballs and rocks were thrown in their direction. The soldiers kept the mob at a distance with bayonettes. Soon a club was thrown, it hit one of the soldiers, and he fired his musket. Three or four shots rang out, one after the other, and more soon followed. The musket fire hit eleven men; three died instantly, one a few hours later, and a fifth within a matter of days. Six others who were wounded survived. The victims were Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks, and Patrick Carr. They were buried in a common grave at Old Granary Burying Ground. Paul Revere's famous engraving of the Massacre, although inaccurate, served as great propaganda for the patriot cause.

Faneuil Hall

Peter Faneuil, one of Colonial Boston's most prominent merchants, donated a beautiful brick meeting hall to the town of Boston in 1742. The building that would bear his name was originally proposed as a market, but after some opposition, sufficient space for town meetings was added to the second floor, above the market stalls. Here, the colonists protested "taxation without representation," gathering to speak out against the Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, and the landing of the British troops. After the Boston Tea Party, the British restricted the use of Faneuil Hall for such purposes.

Click here to take a closer look.

Faneuil Hall was enlarged in 1806 by well-known architect Charles Bulfinch. In the mid 1800s, it was the site of anti-slavery speeches by many abolitionists including Frederick Douglas, Wendell Phillips, and William Lloyd Garrison. Today, the site continues to champion the right to free speech. The meeting hall contains an enormous painting of Daniel Webster speaking before the United States Senate. It took the artist seven years to complete the 16 feet high by 30 feet wide canvas. Above the hall is the museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, the oldest militia organization in the country. Here you can view some interesting artifacts from Boston's early history.

High atop the meeting hall is a unique grasshopper weather vane built by master craftsman Shem Drowne in 1742. Constructed of copper and gold leaf, with glass doorknobs for eyes, it measures 52 inches long and weighs 38 pounds. It was modeled after a similar weather vane that sat atop the Royal Exchange in London. The Faneuil Hall grasshopper has turned in the breeze above the Boston skyline for over 250 years, and is one of the city's most cherished symbols.

Visitor Information:
Open daily 9 AM to 5 PM (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day)
Admission is Free

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Photography by: Ben Edwards

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