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"Massachusetts" United States of America Things to Do Tip by traveldave

United States of America Things to Do: 953 reviews and 1,331 photos


Nickname: Bay State; Land Area: 7,838 square miles (20,300 square kilometers); Population: 6,547,629; Capital: Boston; Largest City: Boston

Officially called the Christ Episcopal Church, the Old North Church is the oldest surviving religious structure in Boston. It belongs to the parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

The church was designed by architect William Price, and was built in 1723 in the Georgian style of architecture. The design was inspired by many of the churches in London that were built by Sir Christopher Wren.

The church's steeple has been replaced twice. The original steeple was destroyed by a storm in 1804. Its 175-foot (53-meter) replacement was designed by architect Charles Bulfinch. That steeple toppled during a hurricane in 1954. The new steeple is an exact replica of Bulfinch's steeple, and it retains the original weathervane.

One of the most important events in American history took place at this church. On April 18, 1775, at the request of Paul Revere, the church's sexton, Robert Newman, and two other patriots hung two lanterns in the the church's belfry to warn patriots in Charlestown of the departure of British troops to Lexington and Concord. The lanterns were lit for less than one minute so as not to be noticed by the British. One lantern was to be lit if the British forces were to march on Charlestown by land, and two were to be lit if the British were to reach Charlestown by taking boats across the Charles River. The words that have become part of the American lexicon, "one if by land, and two if by sea" relate to this event and come from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Paul Revere's Ride.

There is a plaque on the front of the Old North Church commemorating this event which reads: "The signal lanterns of Paul Revere displayed in the steeple of this church, April 18, 1775, warned the country of the march of the British troops to Lexington and Concord".

The Old North Church has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

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  • Updated Aug 16, 2012
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