This is the interior of Old South Meeting House, built in 1729. It’s most famous for its connection to the Boston Tea Party. Visitors are even handed a tea bag when they visit.
Those opposed to the British tax on tea held a meeting in Old South to discuss what their response should be. Samuel Adams, a prime mover and shaker in the revolutionary movement, stood up and announced, “Gentlemen, this meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” This was supposedly a signal to the Massachusetts Sons of Liberty to destroy the tea.
The Boston Tea Party was on and 342 tea crates bobbed in Boston Harbor. The partiers ensured that all the tea was thoroughly soaked and ruined.
When the British occupied Boston, they wreaked revenge on Old South, turning it into a horse riding arena. They gutted the building and used its furnishings for fuel. When the Redcoats left, the congregation spent eight years raising funds and restoring the interior.
The original congregants liked long sermons. In an age without mechanical amplification, the speaker needed all the help he could get. The height of the podium ensured that sound would fall upon the ears of the listeners and the sounding board above him reflected sound downward. Much to my amusement, I thought it looked like some giant threat. “Say something we don’t like and we’ll crush you with this stamp above you!”
This is ironic considering the meeting house’s history subsequent to its preservation as a museum in the 1870s. Old South became a place where anything could be discussed. In 1929, the meeting house’s board voted that any subject, no matter its unpopularity, could be discussed.
I wonder what the original congregants would have thought of that?
To visit Old South 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 and School Streets. Turn right, walk down School Street to Washington Street and turn right again, walk down Washington Street. The Old South Meeting House is on the corner of Washington and Milk Streets. The closest subway stops are State Street (Blue/Orange Lines), Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line). It’s open daily all year, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. April 1-Oct. 31; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 1-March 31.
Here’s the Freedom Trail slide show:
Click on the link in the gallery to order.GHTime Code(s): 46e1d af409 nc