On Saturday, April 17, the Old North Church and Historic Site will kick-off Patriots’ Day Weekend by re-opening its doors to visitors after a 13-month closure in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Known for “One if by land, and two if by sea,” and the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the city’s oldest surviving church is one of the first institutions to re-open along the Freedom Trail.
Built in 1723, the Old North Church’s enduring fame began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when church sexton Robert Newman and vestryman Capt. John Pulling, Jr. climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal that the British troops were heading to Lexington and Concord by sea across the Charles River. That is when Paul Revere embarked on his journey, igniting the American Revolution. In 1860, on the brink of the United States Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned “Paul Revere’s Ride,” citing the Old North Church, to appeal to Northern readers’ patriotism and rally readers behind the abolitionist cause with the tale of a hero who bravely stepped forward to change the course of history. Once again, the Old North Church helped to inspire a nation.
“Although founded nearly 300 years ago, we believe that the legacy of Old North Church is as important today as ever,” says Nikki Stewart, Executive Director of the Old North Church & Historic Site. “We aim to inspire our visitors to consider the roles that active citizenship, hope, sacrifice, and patriotism can play in their lives in 2021 and beyond. When individuals and families leave the Old North Campus, we hope they feel a sense of American pride and are empowered to create meaningful change in each of their own communities.”
Like all museums and public institutions, the Old North Church & Historic Site shut down onsite visitor operations in March of 2020. As a result, the Old North Church Foundation shifted to a virtual strategy, launching an online lecture series featuring historians, authors and artists, and equipping K-12 educators with engaging content that combines a core history curriculum with thought-provoking discussions about active citizenship, liberty, and personal values. The legacy of Old North Church is discussed in history and civics classrooms nationwide.
“The loss of revenue over the past 13 months has been devasting to us as over 90 percent of our operating budget is earned income through ticket sales, tours, school trips and merchandise,” says Stewart, who took the reins amidst the COVID-19 crisis in June of 2020. “April through October is usually peak tourist season for Freedom Trail sites. We are excited to be back in some capacity this spring.”
Tickets will be offered at the reduced price of $5 per person. Self-guided tours will offer a more in-depth view of the building that once served wealthy merchants, government officials, and skilled tradesmen. Visitors can walk through box pews, admire the 17th century angels flanking the church’s 1975 organ, and view the stairs of the famous steeple, known as a beacon of American independence. All visitors must be masked as the Old North Church & Historic Site adheres to all CDC health and safety guidelines. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit: www.oldnorth.com.
About The Old North Foundation of Boston / Old North Church and Historic Site
Established in 1991, The Old North Foundation of Boston is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is responsible for historic site operations and interpretative, educational, and preservation programs at the iconic Old North Church and Historic Site. A secular organization that is independent of Christ Church in the City of Boston, Old North Church welcomes approximately 150,000 visitors annually while overseeing the use and preservation of an enduring symbol of American independence. The Foundation serves a wide audience by creating meaningful experiences through educational outreach, site-specific programming, and historical analysis. Old North Church works collaboratively with the City of Boston, the U.S National Park Service, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and other non-profits to foster educational and interpretive programs for students and visitors while engaging the public in Old North Church’s history and its role in inspiring liberty and freedom. For more information, visit: www.oldnorth.com.