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Brush Up on History at Paul Revere House

Built in 1680, famed silversmith’s house a Freedom Trail favorite

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Photos courtesy of Paul Revere House.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren summoned Paul Revere, then employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as an express rider carrying news, messages and documents. The task – to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts to alert Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them, immortalized the talented silversmith and his midnight ride. Those hazy on the historic particulars or just craving a taste of old Boston can find them at the Paul Revere House in Boston’s North End.

Built in 1680, the Paul Revere House at North Square is believed to be among the oldest in Boston. One of the most popular attractions along Boston’s Freedom Trail, the house was built on the site of the former parsonage of the Second Church of Boston. Increase Mather, the minister of the Second Church and later president of Harvard College, and his family (including his son, Congregational minister and author Cotton Mather) occupied the parsonage from 1670 until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. Paul Revere bought the house in 1770, moving in with his growing family, which at the time included his wife, Sarah, their five children, and his mother, Deborah. After Revere sold the home in 1800, the ground floor housed a series of shops, among them a candy store, a cigar factory, a bank, and a vegetable and fruit business. In 1902, Paul Revere’s great-grandson, John P. Reynolds, Jr., purchased the building to ensure that it would not be demolished, and the Paul Revere Memorial Association was formed to preserve and renovate the building.

In April 1908, the Paul Revere House opened its doors to the public, and the association oversees its upkeep and day-to-day operations. The restored dwelling resembles its late 17th-century original—nearly 90 percent of the structure, including two doors, three window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material, and raftering, are original. The period furnishings in the upstairs chambers belonged to the Revere family. In the courtyard are a 900-pound bell, a small mortar, and a bolt from the USS Constitution, all crafted by Paul Revere & Sons.

In addition to being a silversmith and a goldsmith—trades passed down from his father—Revere was a copper plate engraver, an illustrator, and an importer, and for nearly a decade he worked as a dentist, cleaning teeth and wiring in false ones. Through his lodge, active Freemason Revere grew close to members of the revolutionary movement and occasionally reported to them on the whereabouts of British soldiers. But it wasn’t until a century later that Revere, who went on to become a successful industrialist, was regarded as a hero of the American Revolution. His ride was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” first published in 1860 in the pages of The Atlantic Monthly.

The Paul Revere House is at 19 North Square, Boston. The house is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. from April 15 to October 31 and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. from November 1 until April 14. Admission is $3.50 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and $1 for children. Take the Green Line to Government Center or Haymarket stations, the Blue Line to Government Center or Aquarium stations, or the Orange Line to State or Haymarket stations.

More information can be found here.

This article was originally published June 13, 2011.

5 Comments
Susan Seligson

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

5 Comments on Brush Up on History at Paul Revere House

  • Anonymous on 06.13.2011 at 7:55 am

    Palin was right

    I’m afraid our self-appoi­nted expert on all things Paul Revere is out-classe­d by three historical scholars on the subject. I speak of Boston University history professor Brendan McConville­, Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House, and Robert Allison, a professor and historian at Suffolk University (during his NPR intterview­).

    Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion but the validation of Sarah Palin’s citation of Paul Revere history has been proven.

  • Anonymous on 06.13.2011 at 8:55 am

    Next time I’m in Boston I will have to come by and ask why you did not mention that Paul was spent several hours in British custody. Surely the great man was not mute during his stay.

    From Wikepedia:
    “Revere was captured and questioned by the British soldiers at gunpoint. He told them of the army’s movement from Boston, and that British army troops would be in some danger if they approached Lexington, because of the large number of hostile militia gathered there”

    I think Paul would be shamed by your liberal bias.

  • Anonymous on 06.13.2011 at 11:40 am

    @Conservative revisionists

    Ms. Palin was wrong. Deal with it.

  • Abram on 06.13.2011 at 12:05 pm

    liberal bias?!

    Everyone is *not* entitled to their opinion when it comes to history and the correct use of the English language. And Wikipedia is not necessarily the best place to learn about either, especially when other Palin trolls are updating it to reflect her gaffes.

    Palin’s disdain for the very people to whom she claims to appeal is captured in this unnamed aid’s observation regarding journalists and intellectuals:

    “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ … ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

    This is not a democratic theory of language and knowledge-construction; this is an Orwellian disdain of language, knowledge, and democracy.

    The article was great; ignore the haters.

  • Laurie Cane on 06.14.2011 at 7:15 am

    Paul Revere

    Forgive me, but just who was Paul Revere warning? You were all British at the time.

    I understand his warning was that “The Regulars were on the move”.

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