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Built : 1729

Museum Since : 1877

Architect : Robert Twelves

Architectural Style : Georgian

Known As : Boston’s Sanctuary of Freedom

Address : 310 Washington St., Boston, MA 02108, USA

Timings : 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (Thursday- Sunday), Monday- Wednesday closed

Admission Fee : Fee: USD 7 (adults), USD 6 (seniors and students), USD 4 (ages 12 and under)

Closest Subway Stations : State Street, Downtown Crossing, Park Street

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Old South Meeting House, Boston Overview

One of the 16 sites on the Freedom Trail, the Old South Meeting House in downtown Boston is a former Congregational church turned museum. It is an extremely popular building not just in Boston but in the country since it is associated with a number of historical events, including the beginning of the Boston Tea Party.

The Old South Meeting House was built by Robert Twelves in downtown Boston in 1729 in the Georgian style of architecture. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, it is not only known for being a place of worship or for its architecture but also for being at the center of many significant events in the history of the United States.

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A Little About the Old South Meeting House's Architecture

When the structure was initially built in the 17th century, it was made out of wood. It was later that it was renovated by Robert Twelves and made into the current Georgian style red-brick structure with a 183-foot steeple that was the city’s biggest building at the time.

The National Historic Landmark is situated at the corner of a street and has a brick apron around itself, with a number of skyscrapers and few trees surrounding it. It has been constructed in a fairly simple manner, with the bricks forming a Flemish bond pattern and plain glass windows.

Post the Revolution, the British looted the structure and destroyed the pews, the pulpit and some furnishings. “Of Plymouth Plantation,” a manuscript, was stolen and later returned by the Church of England, and is still kept in the House. Moreover, the House, a museum since 1877, has several exhibitions like “Voices of Protest” and “If These Walls Could Speak” that provide the visitors with an extensive amount of information on the building and its association with the American Revolution.

The Old South Meeting House's Association with the Boston Tea Party

It was the Tea Act of 1773 that set off one of the most significant moments in history ever; the Boston Tea Party. The British allowed its East India Company to sell tea (procured from China) in its colonies in America without paying taxes besides those under the Townshend Acts. This immediately led to a series of oppositions from American patriots and other locals.

Patriots, members of the Sons of Liberty and thousands of others met up at the Old South Meeting House in what later came to be known as the city’s biggest political meeting ever, to find a solution. When all attempts at negotiating with the British Government failed and they refused to leave the Boston Harbor without unloading the tea, everyone, on Samuel Adams' signal, marched to the Harbor and dumped about 340 chests of tea into the water.

This incident contributed heavily to the start of the American Revolution and the country’s fight for independence, with the Old South Meeting House having been the site to set it all off.

Saving the Old South Meeting House and the Current Museum

After having been the site of meetings and protests that played a crucial role in not just the Boston Tea Party of 1773 but the American Revolution, the Old South Meeting House was put up on auction in 1872, was sold and was to be demolished. It was due to the efforts of “Twenty Women of Boston,” mostly from the Old South congregation, that it was saved.

They sought help from prominent figures like Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson in order to reach out to people and raise money. It helped because they managed to collect a large sum and save the House; the first time that a site’s association with historical events helped save it.

The House was turned into a museum in 1877 and is visited by large crowds who come here to learn more about its history, its contribution to America’s independence as well as to meet up and discuss current events since it stands for expression of thoughts and ideas.

How to Reach Old South Meeting House

Not only is it possible to explore this historic landmark while on the Freedom Trail, visitors can reach the Old South Meeting House via other means as well. The MTBA Subway’s Blue or Orange line bring passengers to State Street, the Green line to Government Center and the Red line to Downtown Crossing. Also, there are a few parking garages around, some of which are Pi Alley Garage, Post Office Square Garage and 75 State Street Garage.

The History of Old South Meeting House- a Church Turned Museum

The Old South Meeting House was established after the congregation separated from the First Church of Boston, in 1729. It was built on area that was gifted by Mrs. Norton, John Norton’s (First Church’s pastor) widow.

Following the 1770 Boston Massacre, the House became the site of several meetings and speeches (such as by John Hancock, Samuel Adams), most notably the one that culminated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and subsequently the American Revolution. Due to its association with revolutionary events, the British in 1775 took control of the House, filled it with dirt and then used it as space for horse riding practice, while also destroying it and stealing important artefacts.

Due to the 1872 Great Boston Fire, the House was nearly destroyed had it not been for the timely arrival of the fire engines. However, the residential districts were forced to move towards Back Bay and the congregation built a new church, known as the New Old South Church. Every year, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Old South congregation meets at the Old South Meeting House to hold services.

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