Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Bit More of the Freedom Trail, Boston

From yesterpost, continuing our trip along part of the Freedom Trail...

Our next stop was the Old South Meeting House, where the local colonists decided on December 16, 1773, to go down to the wharf and toss a bunch of tea into the harbor (see this previous post).

Approaching the Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House was built in 1729 by the Puritans for worship. The building was the largest in Boston back in the day and was used by the colonists to discuss and protest British rule.

Closer, 3/4 view

Former slave Phillis Wheatley worshiped here. She became a poet and was one of the first African-Americans who published a book.

My daughter meets Phillis Wheatley (sort of)

Of course, the hall is most famous for the Tea Party incident. The building was supposed to be demolished in 1876 but local citizens protested and were able to save it from a fate worse than tea.

Info on the Boston Tea Party

Boston at the time of the Tea Party

They didn't like the Stamp Act either

George Robert Twelves Hewes (1742-1840) was not only present at the 1773 meeting and Tea Party, he also witnessed the Boston Massacre back in 1770. Hewes was a shoemaker and a typical working class Bostonian of the time who resented what seemed like British intrusiveness into the colonists' lives.

George Robert Twelves Hewes and my toddler

The meeting hall is spacious and a bit plain. Nevertheless, it got the job done when the locals needed a place to gather as a large crowd.

Hewes' view of a few pews

Following the Puritan ascetic aesthetic, the pews are rather narrow and wooden with few creature comforts, unless a family reserved one of the boxes. Meetings (both religious and political) could go on for hours, requiring attendees to have some way to keep warm on Boston's cold winter days.

Most of the pews are long, narrow and wooden

A family box with come amenities like a foot warmer and a writing tray

The clock has a nice eagle on top, probably a later addition.

I guess you can tell when we visited

The main focus of the hall is the pulpit from which speeches were given by Samuel Adams and many others.

Pulpit with octagonal sounding board above

View of the galleries

Access to the galleries--DENIED! (unless you are a ghost)

The place also includes a statue of James Michael Curley (1874-1958), who was active in politics, serving four terms as mayor. Interestingly, he refused to allow Margaret Sanger and the Ku Klux Klan use of city-owned buildings for their activities. The American Civil Liberties Union condemned his decision.

James Michael Curley

Further down the road is the Old State House. The British governed the Massachusetts colony out of this building from 1713 to 1776, calling it the Royal Council Chamber.

Old State House

The British seal

Inside are various exhibits about the building and the American Revolution.

Model of the builing

Some classic weapons

The main floor is a third museum and two-thirds gift shop, but upstairs are some meeting rooms and plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied.

Building the Old State House

Minecrafting comes through!

Learning how to lay bricks

The meeting rooms have costumed actors telling stories about life in colonial times.

Council chamber without councilors!

We didn't time our visit right to hear from the locals though we did watch a short multimedia presentation on the Boston Massacre (which happened across the street from here). My children went back to the activities aimed at them.

Reading trivia

Answering questions

The main spiral staircase dates back to the 18th century and leads both upstairs to the exhibits and downstairs to the bathrooms (which we naturally had to visit).

Not much to see in the basement

The old wine cellars are now a subway station!

The back of the building has a balcony from which the Declaration of Independence was read on July 18, 1776.

Back facade of the Old State House

3/4 view

In the street nearby is a cobblestone circle memorializing the site of the Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, a large mob of colonists threw ice, rocks, and insults at a sentry outside the Custom House. The sentry was reinforced by eight other soldiers. Things escalated and the Redcoats opened fire, killing five colonists. John Adams wound up defending the soldiers, who were tried for murder. They wound up sent back to England.

Boston Massacre site

We followed the trail some more until we came to Faneuil Hall. Merchant Peter Faneuil had the hall built in 1741 as both a marketplace (on the ground floor) and a meeting house (on the upper floors). This building was another spot where the locals came to discuss and protest British rule of the colonies. The upper floors now have displays on, you guessed it, Revolutionary-era history.

Faneuil Hall, with market stalls inside and outside

Out front is a statue of Samuel Adams, one of the Sons of Liberty who advocated for colonial independence starting in the 1760s.

Samuel Adams, looking cheeky if you ask me

The hall only sells snacks and tchotchkes. We were hungry for lunch at this point, so we continued on to Quincy Market, which has restaurants as well as other shops and displays. The Greek Revival style of the exterior is impressive, though it wasn't built until the 1820s when the locals realized that Fanueil Hall just wasn't big enough to accommodate the crowds. Quincy Market is flanked by two other buildings, the North and South Markets.

Quincy Market, looking very classical indeed

After lunch, the toddler was ready to go back to the hotel for nap time, so we missed Paul Revere's Home, the Old North Church (from with the "one if by land, two if by sea" lamps were hung), and the Charlestown attractions (U.S.S. Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument). The subway ride back to the hotel shuttle was entertaining, if only for how noisy it was.

Loud squeaks do not make two out of three children unhappy

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