Old Historical Boston

Old State House (Photo from askmissa.com)
Interior of The Old North Church. Photo from Freedom Trail Foundation

Old Historical Boston

Freedom Trail Marker. Image by mitsloansos.mit.edu

I did not have a lot of time when I went to New England to look around. I was only there for three and a half days total and most of that time I spent working and driving between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Along the way I enjoyed the eastern land and cityscapes and noticed the distinct differences between the west and east coast.  As I moved from state to state I felt like I was driving through a forest of varied species of pine, maple and beech trees. There were very few fences in neighborhoods and it all appeared so open. The cities have a distinct quaintness I don’t see on the west coast.    There were many red brick buildings and some roof lines had the tall pointed steeples that looked like witch hats to me. Although I was there in October there had been a lack of rain that season and the trees were just beginning to turn colors. I was a bit disappointed to have missed the famous leaf season.  Instead I decided to concentrate my only free time on downtown historic Boston. On my last day I moved to a hotel as close as I could get to the area so I could spend my precious four hours in the morning heading to Boston Logan for my return trip. I passed Fenway Park on my way into town and longed to go inside.  It is an important piece of history to America’s pastime and it would have been fun experience. It would have to wait for another trip.  

I checked into my hotel and prepared for my morning activities.  I got up early and walked the Freedom Trail and got a glimpse of what city life was like in Colonial America.  Many of the historical sites are in remarkably good condition.  I started my self-guided tour just south of the Charles River and proceeded south.  The first things I saw were the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House. They were both closed so I planned to catch them on my walk back.  They were interesting from the outside so I was anxious to see the interiors.  I marched on until I came to Faneuil Hall, famous for the taxation without representation protests and the Boston Massacre funerals among other notable events.  The building is topped with an unusual weather vane of a grasshopper. It was a trivia question back in the 1800 and if you did not know what was on top of Faneuil hall you were suspected of being a spy.  Be warned.  I kept walking and stopped at the Old State House.  It is one of the oldest buildings in existence for the 13 Colonies and was the center of many revolutionary ideas. Here the elected representatives’ ideas often tangled with those of the Royal Governor. It is a charming old red brick building with a prominent balcony on the second floor for public address. This is where the Declaration of Independence was read publically for the first time.   There are some fun artifacts in the building. They included a vial of tea from the Boston Tea Party; a lantern used to signal the Sons of Liberty and most notable is John Hancock’s red velvet suit.  Right outside the State house in the town square is the site of the Boston Massacre. It was hard to believe I was walking on such hallowed ground.  I moved on to see the Old Corner Bookstore. It was originally the house of Anne Hutchings. She had been exiled to Rhode Island after being convicted for being a heretic for holding scripture readings in her home and preaching without a license. She ended up starting the town of Portsmouth so apparently she had a very productive life elsewhere.   After she left the house it became a print shop for printing books written by famous authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott. It was an impressive publishing list for such a small building.  I kept walking until I stood on the door step of history at the Old South Meeting Hall. The most important meeting here discussed the thirty tons of taxable tea sitting on ships in the harbor. The crowded meeting must have been something else.  I could almost hear the bickering.  No one wanted to pay the duty taxes on the tea and they failed at an attempt to have the tea sent back to England. That night the harbor became a tea pot.

 I had only covered about half the trail and I regretted that time was running tight. There was so much more to see.  I reluctantly turned around and start my way back. I was in luck and walked right into Paul Revere’s House.  His house was a wooden structure and what struck me most was the open fireplace that was so large you could almost walk inside. This was the main heating for the house and a large hook hanging from the top held a black iron kettle.  Of course the historical significance for this place is that it was the starting point for Paul’s fateful ride to Lexington. I had time for one last stop; The old North Church.  It had an unusual interior for churches. I instead of the usual pews lining either side of a main aisle it had two side aisles and cubicles divided with little entry gates. Each family owned a square and they were all decorated with different types of furniture to suit the family needs. The church had the tallest steeple in Boston and was logically chosen to hang the lanterns to signal the advance of the British troops.  “One if by land, two if by sea” …and the rest is history so they say and so was my visit to Boston.

My biggest regret is that I had not planned to do any sightseeing and had not brought a camera. I did not get one personal photograph.

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