Christ Church/The Old North Church
is the oldest church building in Boston. The first stone was laid by April
15, 1723. The building took twenty-two years to complete. It originally
was an Anglican church, and is today an active Episcopalian congregation
The builders of the
Church determined that it should represent the best of recent English
architecture. It was built by William Price in the style of Sir Christopher
Wren and was possibly modeled after St. Andrews-by-the-Wardrobe in Blackfryers,
England. Its walls are made from 513,654 Medford bricks in a double English
bond pattern that is two and a half feet thick. Timber came from forests
around York, Maine.
Old North has a 175
foot wooden, three-tiered steeple. The steeple houses a peal of eight
bells, which were cast by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester, England in 1744.
They are the oldest church bells in America, and are still rung today.
The steeple was toppled by two hurricanes. The first was in 1804, after
which it was rebuilt from a Charles
Bullfinch drawing, and again in 1954. The original weathervane by
Deacon Shem Drowne, a Colonial craftsman, still tops the spire. On September
13, 1757, John Childs became the grandfather of American extreme sports
when he strapped an umbrella-like contraption to his back and, to the
delight of the crowd below, jumped from the tower, landing safely a few
hundred feet away.
The steeple was immortalized
in Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow's poem, "The midnight ride of Paul Revere." On
April 18, 1775, sexton Robert Newman climbed the steeple, and briefly
hung the two lanterns that touched off the revolutionary war. The original
window through which he left the building was bricked up in 1815. It was
rediscovered during restoration work in 1989, and now houses a Third Lantern
that was lit by President Ford on April 18, 1975 as a symbol of freedom
and renewed resolve for the next century of our Nation's life.
In the interior, many
original features remain today. High box pews were designed to retain
the warmth of hot coals or bricks placed on the floor during wintry days.
Its gleaming brass chandeliers were gifts of Captain William Maxwell.
They are surmounted by a dove of peace, and were first lighted on Christmas
day, 1724. Parishioners Avery and Bennet built the clock at the rear of
the Church in 1726. Above the clock are four polychrome wooden statues
of cherubim, which were installed in 1746.
Dr. Timothy Cutler, the chapel's first minister (Yale's first president),
delivered its first sermon at the Old North Church on December 29th, 1723,
and from then it has continuously served its congregation.
The nickname, "Old North", was traditionally applied to whichever
North End church was the oldest at a given time, so during the American
Revolution a different church would have then been called "Old North."