Boston Freedom Trail: Boston Common To Old South Meeting House

Boston is a city steeped in American history, and the cries of “Freedom!” from Revolutionary War apparitions still echo throughout its sometimes modern, sometimes Colonial city streets.

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts' first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston’s two and a half mile Freedom Trail is not just a self-guided lesson in history, but a chance to encounter some of America’s most famous ghosts in what is arguably the country’s most historic city. From Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution to the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House, the Freedom Trail is a spectral dream.

In an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail. In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.

Like most visitors we began the trail in Boston Common.

America’s oldest public park, 50-acre Boston Common has been used throughout history as a common grazing ground for sheep and cattle, for public hangings (until 1817), and was the staging ground for British troops before Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.

Today, the Common is a place for relaxation. You can also relax in the Boston Public Garden across Charles Street which is graced by a statue of George Washington.

The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. It sits across from Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill. The imposing dome of the state house, originally constructed of wood, and later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with 23-karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874.

Today it is the seat of the Massachusetts state government. It is also the oldest building on Beacon Hill.

The third-oldest burying ground in Boston, the Granary Burying Ground is the final resting place of three signers of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and Samuel Adams.

Founded in 1660, it was in 1737, when grain was stored where the present Park Street Church stands, and the burying ground was renamed the Granary. The 217-foot steeple of this church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston. The church is the site of the first Sunday School in 1818.

In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison gave his powerful anti-slavery speech here and in 1831 My Country ‘Tis of Thee was sung for the first time by the church’s children choir.

The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest in Boston proper, and is the final resting place of John Winthrop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower. The Anglican chapel was built at the behest of King James II to ensure the presence of the Church of England in America.

The church was completed in 1754 and is one of the 500 most important buildings in America. Its sanctuary is considered by many to be the best example of Georgian church architecture in North America. In 1785, it became the first Unitarian church in the country, where services are held to this day.

The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first public school in America was established in 1635 in the home of Philemon Pormont but was later moved to its current location on School Street. Its illustrious list of alumni includes Samuel Adams, John Hancok, and Ben Franklin, whose statue overlooks the site. It later became Boston Latin School, still in operation in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. Today, a mosaic marks the spot where the school once stood.

One of Boston’s oldest surviving structures, built in 1712, now houses the Boston Globe Store, founded by The Boston Globe newspaper. It was here, when it was the Old Corner Bookstore, that some of America’s most famous books were published, including The Scarlet Letter and Walden.

In the 19th century, this building was the center of literary Boston, attracting such luminaries as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry David Thoreau.

Originally built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House was once the largest building in Boston, but its best known as the site where the Boston Tea Party began, which, in turn, began the American Revolution.

USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1773 more than 5,000 colonists gathered here to protest the tax on tea. After hours of debate, Samuel Adams declared that “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” The protesters emptied out of the Old South Meeting House and proceeded to Boston harbor, where they emptied out three shiploads of tea, and changed the course of American history forever.

Worth Pondering…

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
—Benjamin Franklin

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