Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House


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The Old South Meeting House is a historic congregational church situated in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It gained fame as the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Old South Meeting House history

Old South Meeting House was built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, with a congregation in which leaders such as Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin mingled with artists like the famous African American poet Phillis Wheatley.

As tensions grew about the British colonial government in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Old South Meeting House became the home of free speech in Boston.

As the largest building in the town, it was often used as an alternative to Faneuil Hall, which was the official town meeting hall. Therefore, in the 1760s and 1770s it came to be that the Old South Meeting House was the scene of many spirited protests against the British, their legislation and their stationed redcoats, sent in 1768.

On 6 March 1770, the day after the Boston Massacre, crowds gathered at the Old South Meeting House to object to the incident where British troops killed five citizens after shooting at a protest group.

The culmination of these events and one of the most famous events in American history took place at the Old South Meeting House on 16 December 1773, during a heated debate over the British tea tax. Around 5,000 people had crowded into the hall to participate and, when the debate failed to reach a solution, Samuel Adams led the crowd to throw 342 chests of tea into the harbour at Griffin’s Wharf. This became known as the Boston Tea Party.

During the American Revolution, the Old South Meeting Hall suffered devastating destruction when, upon occupying Boston, the British tore down most of the internal parts of the building and used it as a riding school. Since then, the Old South Meeting Hall has survived the 1872 Fire of Boston and escaped demolition, finally being purchased by the Old South Association in 1877.

Old South Meeting House today

Since 1877, Old South has served as a museum, historic site, educational institution, and a sanctuary for free speech. In the 1920s, the house enacted a policy to grant the use of the building to groups otherwise denied a public platform.

Old South continues to serve as a catalyst for intellectual thought and energy by sponsoring public forums, debates, concerts and theatrical presentations year round. It’s ongoing exhibit “Voices of Protest” tells the inspiring, sometimes disturbing, and frequently controversial story of the Old South Meeting House through the voices of the men and women whose achievements have shaped its history.

The Old South Meeting House is claimed to be the second oldest establishment existent in the United States and is currently under consideration for local landmark status by the Boston Landmarks Commission.

Getting to Old South Meeting House

The entrance to Old South Meeting House is located on the west side of the building, on Washington Street, just a few steps off the red brick line of The Freedom Trail and a 3 minute walk away from the Old State House.

If travelling via public transport, the nearest stations to Old State House are State Street (Orange/Blue Line), which is located beneath the Old State House and Old South Meeting House, Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line).

There are several parking sites in the vicinity of the Old State House, including the Post Office Square Garage, Pi Alley Garage, 75 State Street Garage.


Old South Meeting House

Visit the famed, National Historic Landmark where liberty found its allies and the American Revolution gained its voice. Within the walls of Old South Meeting House, meeting by meeting, vote by vote, a revolution began.

Since 1729, when it was built as a Puritan meeting house, Old South Meeting House has played an important role in American history. It was on this site that the Judge Samuel Sewall publicly apologized for his role in the Salem Witch Trials. It was on this site that Benjamin Franklin was baptized. It was on this site that slave and poet Phillis Wheatley explored the meaning of liberty.

In the years leading to the American Revolution, thousands of colonists gathered at Old South Meeting House to challenge British rule, most famously to protest the Boston Massacre and the tea tax. The largest building in colonial Boston, Old South Meeting House was the stage for an overflow meeting on December 16, 1773, which adjourned to Griffin&rsquos Wharf for the infamous event that would become known as the Boston Tea Party.

Almost a century later, Old South Meeting House was threatened with destruction. In 1876, Bostonians fought to save the building from the wrecker&rsquos ball in the first successful historic preservation effort in New England.

Today Old South Meeting House is open daily as a museum and treasured landmark and keeps its revolutionary heritage alive as an active gathering place and a haven for free speech in the heart of downtown Boston. The exhibit Voices of Protest traces the story of the people who have made history at Old South Meeting House. Explore the rich history of the Meeting House through rare artifacts, such as a vial of tea from the Boston Tea Party and a 3-D historic model of colonial Boston.

Created by (osmh. l.com) on June 1, 2012 - Friday - 1:03 pm (Eastern)
Edited by (osmh. l.com) on June 4, 2012 - Monday - 5:17 pm (Eastern)
Edited by Lee Wright ([email protected] t.com) on June 13, 2012 - Wednesday - 9:52 pm (Eastern)
Edited by (osmh. l.com) on July 27, 2012 - Friday - 8:32 pm (Eastern)

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Old South Meeting House

310 Washington Street
at the intersection of Milk Street
Boston, MA 02108

Hours

Monday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Wednesday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Thursday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Friday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Directions/Transportation/Parking

Directions from the Boston Common Visitor Center: (start of the Freedom Trail, the red line marked on the sidewalk)

Walk along Tremont Street (with Visitor Center and Boston Common behind you) to the corner of Tremont & School Streets. Take a RIGHT, walk down School Street to Washington Street Take a RIGHT, walk down Washington Street Old South is ½ block on the left. The Old South Meeting House is on the corner of Washington and Milk Streets.

Public Transportation (MBTA)

Old South Meeting House is easily accessible by all subway lines. The closest stops are State Street (Blue/Orange Lines), Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line).

From the South: Take Route 3 to Route 93 North, following signs for Boston - Quincy. Take Exit 23, Government Center. Stay in left lane on ramp. At top of ramp, left lane becomes two lanes wide. Stay in lane marked for Government Center. This lane crosses Surface Road onto North Street. Follow North Street to intersection with Congress Street and take a left on Congress. Take your first right onto State Street (which becomes Court Street almost immediately) and follow it to the end, making a left at the fork onto Tremont Street. Take your first left onto School Street (Omni Parker House on the corner). At the bottom of School Street, take a left onto Washington Street.

From the West: Follow the Massachusetts Turnpike Eastbound to Exit 24B, which is Route 93 North. Follow directions &ldquoFrom the South&rdquo, directly above.

From the North: Follow Route 93 South to Exit 24A, Government Center/Faneuil Hall. At the top of the ramp take a left, stay in the right hand lane. Take a right onto State Street which becomes Court Street and follow to end, taking a left at the fork onto Tremont Street. Take your first left onto School Street (Omni Parker House on the corner). At the bottom of School Street, take a left onto Washington Street.

Several parking garages are easily accessible to Old South Meeting House. Discount validation stamps or tickets are often available for these garages. Please inquire at the admissions desk.

Pi Alley Parking Garage is located at 275 Washington Street. The Garage at Post Office Square is located at 0 Post Office Square. Standard Parking is located at 33 Arch Street, entrance to the garage is on Hawley Street.

In advance of y our visit, you may also visit www.Boston.CentralParking.com to print out discount coupons to garages in Boston and Cambridge.

For more information

civil war, boston, massachusetts, american revolution, revolution, Architecture, colonial, Boston Tea Party, Church, Meeting House, congregationalism, Puritan, Founding Fathers

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Confederate soldier memoir

Confederate soldier John Wesley Bone, who at 18 in 1861 enlisted in a North Carolina regiment, fought in many battles. One time he awaited rescue for three days after a bullet pierced his chest. He recovered, rejoined his regiment, and stayed through the end of the war.

Years later, in his memoir, he wrote, “Everywhere it is believed that our brigade fired the last gun that was fired by the Confederates at Appomattox.” A new edition, “Record of a Soldier in the Late War: The Confederate Memoir of John Wesley Bone” (Chinquapin), includes annotations, details about Bone’s life before and after the war, battlefield maps, and illustrations. It is the work of Bone’s great-granddaughter, Julianne Bone Mehegan, and her husband, former Boston Globe staffer David Mehegan. They are returning to their alma mater, Suffolk University, to give a talk and slideshow at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Sawyer Library.


The British Got It

The British understood its importance, too. During the Siege of Boston, the British vandalized symbols of the patriotic cause. They stole William Bradford‘s 1620 manuscript Of Plymouth Plantation, hidden in Old South’s tower. And they turned the Old South Meeting House into a riding school for Gen. John Burgoyne. They gutted the interior, burned the pews and dumped loads of dirt and gravel on the floor. It took eight years to restore the building.

Lowell Warren, once president of the Old South Association, said, “My wife swears she can still smell the British horses in the stairwell.”

Old South Meeting House, American Revolution interior in Boston. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

A century later the Old South Meeting House narrowly escaped destruction when the Great Fire of 1872 swept through Boston. The conflagration burned 65 acres of the city, destroyed 776 buildings and killed 30 people.

“I heard the Old South clock strike,” said an eyewitness. “I don’t know what hour, and I know the thought came into my mind that perhaps it would never strike again.” Only the timely arrival of a fire engine from Portsmouth, N.H., saved the old building.


Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston and stands today as a symbol of the right to free speech and free assembly. The most well known meeting that took place here was held by the Sons of Liberty on December 16, 1773. The discussion in protest of the British tax on tea led directly to the Boston Tea Party, which took place later that very evening. 5,000 colonists gathered in the Old South Meeting House that day, an example of one of the larger crowds that could not have been accommodated by Faneuil Hall.

  • Admissions
  • Restrooms

The building was completed in 1729 and was originally intended to serve as a Puritan meetinghouse, but was often used for public gatherings as well. Between 1775-1776 the British besieged Boston and made a point of destroying and vandalizing symbols of the patriotic cause. During this period they gutted the interior of the Old South Meeting House, brought in dirt and used it for a British riding school, and used other areas as lounges for the British soldiers. It took the congregation 8 years to raise enough funds to repair the building.

In 1872, the Old South Meeting House was almost destroyed by the Great Fire of Boston. The congregation built a new Old South Church at Copley Square and the original building opened to the public as a museum in 1877. Today the building is an active gathering place for meetings, lectures, and readings, in addition to featuring historical exhibits.

Ultimate Guide To Old South Meeting House (Boston)

The tense relationship between American colonists and the British Crown was further strained with the enactment of the Tea Tax. The Old South Meeting House was the gathering place for a large crowd on the night of December 16, 1773 because it was the largest building in Colonial Boston. Numbering over 5,000, the assembled crowd was anxious to discuss the status of ships carrying tea docked in the harbor. As the night wore on, patriot Samuel Adams spoke the words “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” It was a covert signal for the Sons of Liberty to take action. Dressed as Mohawk Indians, the men boarded the three ships and threw the cargo of tea into the Boston Harbor. From that moment, the Old South Meeting House became known as the place where the Boston Tea Party began.

History of the Meeting House

In 1669, a group of Puritans split from the original Pilgrim church in Boston and constructed a wooden church on a site that was once a garden belonging to Governor John Winthrop. The simple wooden structure, called the Cedar Meeting House, was replaced with the current Georgian-style, brick building 60 years later. Keeping with the Puritan attitude of simplicity, the building has plain glass windows and bricks arranged in a Flemish bond pattern. A gilded weathervane tops the 183-foot-tall steeple, and the belfry contains a historic bell cast by Paul Revere. The 1768 clock still keeps proper time. The church’s first minister was Thomas Thatcher, a physician who published the first medical tract in Massachusetts. The house of worship was a gathering place where colonists from every strata of life occasionally assembled to discuss and debate political events.

Because Faneuil Hall was too small, the Old South Meeting House hosted a town hall meeting in 1768 protesting the impressments of New England sailors into the British navy. The crowd was also angry about the seizure of the sloop Liberty on customs violations. Although the meeting accomplished its goals, the rising tensions led Britain to station 4,000 troops in Boston, which many patriots considered an occupying force. After the Boston Massacre, another town meeting in the church forced Governor Hutchinson to relocate the troops from the city to Castle William located on an island in the harbor. The church was the site for memorial services on the anniversary of the massacre until 1775. Because of its role in numerous dramatic town meetings that led up to the Revolution, including the large gathering on the night of the Boston Tea Party, the Old South Meeting House earned the nickname the “Sanctuary of Freedom.”

During the British occupation of Boston early in the American Revolution, the church bore the brunt of their fury. The pews, pulpit and other furnishings were torn down and burned as firewood. Wagonloads of dirt were brought into the church so that it could be used as an indoor riding rink for officer’s horses. Soldiers also stole various items, including the manuscript “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford that was hidden in the tower. The Church of England would return the manuscript in 1897. After the war, the congregation spent eight years restoring the building.

A parish church until 1872, the building was saved from destruction during the Great Boston Fire that year by the timely arrival of a firefighting crew from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Although the building experienced considerable damage, concerned Bostonians sought to save it from demolition because of its historic significance. Public records show that this was the first time a public building in the city was spared for such a reason. The fire did cause the city’s population to shift toward the Back Bay neighborhood and away from downtown. The congregation built the new Old South Meeting House in Copley Square where it continues to worship. Once a year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the congregation holds its weekly service in its historic home. Nestled in the heart of downtown, the church became a public museum in 1877.

The “Voices of Protest” exhibit features lifelike figures and interactive displays to relay the history of this building, which is considered one of America’s most important Colonial sites. Another multimedia exhibit entitled “If These Walls Could Speak” takes visitors through a series of events that occurred in Boston leading up to and during the American Revolution. You can also enjoy a variety of scavenger hunts designed for guests of all ages.

In addition to standing in the precise location where Samuel Adams launched the Boston Tea Party, you can view the second-tier gallery that was used for slaves, servants and unruly teenagers. Phyllis Wheatley, America’s first published African-American author, worshiped here as a slave. It is the place where Benjamin Franklin was baptized, George Washington spoke out against the British desecration of Boston and Elizabeth Foster, known by the nom de plume Mother Goose, sang hymns. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Julia Ward Howe also recited their famous works here. The museum hosts over 100 special events, presentations and concerts throughout the year.

A stop on the Freedom Trail, the Old South Meeting House is open to the public for a nominal fee. Student, senior and military discounts are available. Children under five are admitted free. From November through March, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The hours are 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. April through October. The Old South Meeting House is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The museum is wheelchair accessible. Because parking downtown is limited, it is recommended that guests use public transportation. The closest “T” stops are State Street on the Blue and Orange lines, Downtown Crossing on the Red Line and Government Center on the Green Line.

The Old State House is the oldest public building in the country. The museum contains a wide-ranging collection of artifacts related to the American Revolution. View the floating spiral staircase and other unique architectural details of this historic landmark. The site of the Boston Massacre is located nearby.

Post Office Square is an urban park adorned with fountains, a pergola and central lawn. There is also a café, complimentary Wi-Fi, a lending library and summer midday concerts. Featuring cushioned benches, the park is a popular warm weather lunchtime destination.

After seeing where it all started, head to the waterfront to tour the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. See artifacts from that fateful night, including one of the actual tea chests. You can also view the short film “Let It Begin Here” before touring a replica ship for an interactive experience of the events that took place that historic evening.

Downtown Crossing is a trendy shopping district that hosts department stores, street vendors, restaurants and souvenir shops where you can find special keepsakes to remember your visit. Portions of several streets are closed to vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian-friendly shopping venue. It is also the backdrop for one of Boston’s memorials to the Irish famine.


Old South Meeting House

Although all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted by the state and city, business hours of operation may still be impacted. please contact individual listings and websites for the most up-to-date information.

Old South Meeting House

Business Information

Hours

Monday-Sunday: 9:30 am-5:00 pm

Visit the famed, National Historic Landmark where liberty found its allies and the American Revolution gained its voice.

Within the walls of Old South Meeting House, meeting by meeting, vote by vote, a revolution began.

Since 1729, when it was built as a Puritan meeting house, Old South Meeting House has played an important role in American history. In the years leading to the American Revolution, thousands of colonists gathered at Old South Meeting House to challenge British rule, most famously to protest the Boston Massacre and the tea tax. The largest building in colonial Boston, Old South Meeting House was the stage for an overflow meeting on December 16, 1773, which adjourned to Griffin’s Wharf for the infamous event that would become known as the Boston Tea Party.

Almost a century later, Old South Meeting House was threatened with destruction. In 1876, Bostonians fought to save the building from the wrecker’s ball in the first successful historic preservation effort in New England.

Today Old South Meeting House is open daily as a museum and a haven for free speech in the heart of downtown Boston. Explore the rich history of the Meeting House through rare artifacts, such as a vial of tea from the Boston Tea Party and a 3-D historic model of colonial Boston.


Old South Meeting House

Built in 1729, the Old South Meeting House was a Congregational church and the largest gathering place for popular politics in Revolutionary Boston. Today it is a busy museum, treasured landmark, and active center for civic dialogue and free expression.

Directions & Parking

Directions to the Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House

310 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108

The entrance to Old South Meeting House is located on the west side of the building, on Washington Street, just a few steps off the red brick line of the Freedom Trail. If using GPS, be sure to enter 02108 as the zip code.

By MBTA

  • Orange / Blue Line to State Street (Stations located beneath the Old State House and Old South Meeting House)
  • Green Line to Government Center (The Old State House is one block south down Court Street)
  • Red Line to Downtown Crossing (Follow Washington Street east several blocks)

Parking

  • Post Office Square Garage
    Zero Post Office Square
    Boston, MA 02109
    617-423-1430
    posquare.com
  • Pi Alley Garage
    275 Washington Street
    Boston, MA 02201
    617-720-2006
    pialleygarage.com
  • 75 State Street Garage
    75 State Street
    Boston, MA 02109
    617-742-7275
    75statestreetgarage.com

Hours & Admission

Old South Meeting House Operating Hours

  • Wednesdays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Thursdays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Fridays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturdays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sundays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Two-Site Admission

The unique relationship between these two iconic sites creates a rich and dynamic story that speaks to the heart of urgent questions about self-government, free speech, and the role of civic engagement in a free society. Visit both museums for one price.

  • Adults $15
  • Seniors (62+) $14
  • Students $14
  • Children (under 12) $8
  • Members FREE

For more information on memberships, please visit our Become a Member page.

*Does not apply to groups of 10 or more.

Group Tickets

Special Offers

What’s On at the Old South Meeting House


Saved from the wrecking ball in 1876 by “twenty women of Boston,” Old South Meeting House has been a public museum since 1877. Image depicts a very early museum configuration.

Old South Association Archives

Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston and the stage for some of the most dramatic events leading up to the American Revolution.

Built as a Puritan meeting house in 1729, Old South Meeting House stands today as one of the nation&rsquos most important colonial sites, one of the country&rsquos first public historic conservation efforts, and one of the earliest museums of American history.

During the colonial period, members of Old South&rsquos congregation included African-American poet Phillis Wheatley who published a book in 1773 while she was enslaved patriot leaders Samuel Adams and William Otis William Dawes, who rode with Paul Revere to Lexington in 1775 and the young Benjamin Franklin and his family.

Old South became the center for massive public protest meetings against British actions in colonial Boston from 1768-75. Patriots and Loyalists alike met to argue and inform, to protest the impressment of sailors into the King&rsquos navy, and to commemorate the bloody Boston Massacre of 1770. Yet it was the series of meetings that culminated on December 16, 1773 that sealed Old South&rsquos fate as one of this country&rsquos most significant buildings. On that day, over 5,000 men crowded into the meeting house to hotly debate the controversial tea tax. When the final attempt at compromise failed, Samuel Adams gave the signal that started the Boston Tea Party. The Sons of Liberty led the way to Griffin&rsquos Wharf, where they dumped 342 chests of tea into the frigid harbor.

In 1872, Old South Meeting House was put on the auction block, sold for the value of its building materials, and slated for demolition. A determined group of &ldquotwenty women of Boston&rdquo organized to to save the building from the wrecker&rsquos ball: they enlisted famous Bostonians, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Julia Ward Howe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Louisa May Alcott to rally people to secure funds and spread the word. Their combined efforts raised an enormous sum to purchase the building and its land and save Old South. It was the first time that a public building in the United States was saved because of its association with nationally important historical events. Old South Meeting House has been open to the public as a museum and meeting place since 1877 thanks to the efforts of that original Old South Association.

&ldquo&hellipin every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call love of Freedom it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.&rdquo


Old South Meeting House - History

Location: Milk and Washington Streets, Boston.

Ownership and Administration (1961). Old South Association, Boston.

Significance. Old South Meeting House—the "Sanctuary of Freedom"—belongs to two distinct triumvirates of historic buildings in Boston. The first group is made up of outstanding religious edifices from the colonial period, and includes Christ Church and King's Chapel. The second group is made up of structures that gained a lasting place in the American heritage as scenes of public assembly and deliberation in the stirring period of the Revolutionary movement. In the latter group Old South, because of its large seating capacity, shared distinction with the Second Boston Town House and Faneuil Hall. In many instances the last two could not accommodate certain mass gatherings that were the prelude to the final break with England. The mass protest meetings that gave Old South lasting fame took place during the tumultuous interval between the passage of the Townshend Acts in 1767 and the outbreak of war in 1775.

The first in the series of significant assemblies in Old South was held on June 14 and 15, 1768, when public feeling ran high immediately after the liberty riots and the ill-advised attempt by a captain of the British Navy to impress Yankee sailors in Boston Harbor. In this instance, the Colonials were somewhat mollified by the intercession of the Governor and the assurance that the Navy would be more cautious in seeking men for service. Not quite 2 years later the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770) brought an inflamed throng of citizens to the Old South Meeting House. A committee headed by Samuel Adams, fresh from a conference with British officials concerning the removal of the redcoats from Boston, reported to the people on the afternoon after the "massacre" in King Street. Master James Lovell of Boston Latin School delivered the first anniversary oration commemorating the Boston Massacre in Old South.

The most significant of the gatherings were the anti-tea meetings which led to the Boston Tea Party on the night of December 16, 1773. The 1775 anniversary observance of the Boston Massacre was the last and most eventful such assemblage in Old South. Dr. Joseph Warren is supposed to have entered through the window behind the pulpit to avoid the British officers who had crowded the aisles and seated themselves on the pulpit steps, presumably hoping to break up the meeting.

During the siege of Boston, the Old South congregation dispersed, many of the members seeking refuge outside town. The church parsonage nearby was torn down by British troops and its material used as firewood. Old South's brick construction probably saved it from a similar fate, although most of its interior furnishings were used for fuel and the building turned into a riding school for British cavalry. This unhappy period ended with the evacuation of the British Army in March 1776. The congregation slowly reassembled and, in 1783, restored the interior much as it had been half a century earlier.

Old South Meeting House. (National Park Service)

Old South, a large structure for its day, was built in 1729-30 for Third Church, the third body of Congregationalists to be organized in Boston. This group had gathered in 1669 to protest the narrower views of the congregation of North Church. In 1717 a new body of Congregationalists had taken the name "New South Church." To keep its identity clear, Third Church was called "Old South," the name it bears today. The new meetinghouse of brick, replacing an earlier wooden church, was designed by Robert Twelves and laid up in Flemish bond by Joshua Blanchard, a master mason who was later to win even higher recognition as the builder of the Thomas Hancock House on Beacon Hill and the original Faneuil Hall. The exterior of the new meetinghouse showed a marked reflection of the new Georgian style. It had two tiers of arched windows and a projecting tower in front, with a spire rising from an octagonal base. The interior plan is typical of a 17th-century New England meetinghouse, consisting of a side entrance with a central aisle leading across the auditorium to a high pulpit at the middle of the opposite long side. Galleries extended around the other three sides, with a second gallery added over the first at the east end.

When the interior of the meetinghouse was restored after the Revolution, the original design was generally followed, although subsequent repairs and improvements reflected the styles and taste of the early Republic. A number of changes occurred during the 19th century until, in the great fire of 1872, a considerable area around the meetinghouse was burned, with some damage to the building itself. Because of the removal of many of its members to the developing Back Bay area, the congregation decided in 1874 to move to a new building at the corner of Boyleston and Dartmouth Streets. Having no further use for the old house, the congregation decided to tear down the building and sell the valuable land on which it stood. When demolition started, however, public sentiment was aroused to save the structure. The outcome was the purchase of the meetinghouse for $400,000 by a committee of citizens. In the next few years the growth of the Old South preservation fund assured the success of this early undertaking in the cause of historical preservation.

After necessary repairs had been made, Old South became a historical museum. Of particular note was its role as headquarters for the Old South work in history and the program of publication of the extensive series of Old South leaflets covering a broad range of American history.

Present Appearance (1961). Old South Meeting House has been maintained in a satisfactory state of repair and some efforts at restoration have been undertaken with the limited financial resources of the Old South Association. Box pews, for instance, have been installed again on the floor of the auditorium. [28]


Beyond Boston: Old South Meeting House’s Global Construction

For nearly 300 years, Old South Meeting House has stood in Boston as a testament to its construction and preservation. While the building itself is at the epicenter of America’s founding stories, the history of its construction is far more global. The enduring assumption for Old South Meeting South, and buildings like it, is a narrative locked into patriotism and hyper-locality. Beyond Boston: Old South Meeting House’s Global Construction will engage our panelists in discussions on the global materials economy in the 18th century, the role of slavery and servitude in the construction of New England’s most iconic buildings, and the emergence of a domestic, regional style born from international influence. Our panelists are experts in 18th century architecture with specialties ranging from forgotten New England Histories, Georgian English architecture, and transatlantic building materials.

Panelists

  • Eric Gradoia is the Director of Preservation at Historic Deerfield whose primary field of study is 17th-19th century New England vernacular architecture and building materials. He has served as adjunct faculty at Rogers Williams University, sits on the board for the Historic Eastfield Foundation, and is a registered assessor with the American Institute for Conservation.
  • Oliver Gerrish is a Cambridge University-trained architectural historian based in the United Kingdom who specialises in preservation. Oliver is an author and lecturer on English architecture and has led several preservation initiatives with the Georgian Group, Derbyshire Historic Buildings, and Historic Decorations, a group he founded with Lady Caroline Percy. Though a Briton, Oliver’s family ancestry includes one Thomas Gerrish, a Son of Liberty and a participant during Boston’s Destruction of the Tea at the Boston Tea Party!

MODERATED BY:

  • Dorothy Clark is an independent architectural historian who has extensively researched “forgotten histories” and colonial New England buildings. Dorothy is a professor at Boston Architectural College, an editor for Historic New England’s magazine, and sits on the Board of Directors at the Loring-Greenough House.

This event is generously supported in part by the Lowell Institute.


Watch the video: Boston Freedom Trail Stop 8 Old South Meeting House