Field Trip - Old South Meetinghouse

Yesterday, I took Max on a field trip to Boston.  He has just finished studying the American Revolution, and I wanted to bring it all to life a bit for him.  What a chilly, chilly day to visit Boston!  We had to walk a few blocks from where we parked to our first stop, and he commented to me, “Even wearing a hat, I can’t feel my ears anymore.”  But we survived to tell the tale.
Our first stop was the Old South Meetinghouse.  It is most famous for being the meeting place of the Sons of Liberty the night of the Boston Tea Party.  But it holds many other claims to fame as well.  It was the place where large crowds of people came to debate the issues of the day for more than two centuries.  Benjamin Franklin and Phyllis Wheatley were baptised there (and she was a member).  (Benjamin Franklin, although more closely associated with Philadelphia, was born in Boston and grew up on the street from which I took this photo.)  The clock on the outside of the church dates to 1770.

A statue of Phyllis Wheatley.

I was surprised to find that the interior of the church sits sideways to the front door.  Instead of looking at the back of the pews as you enter, you look at the ends of them.  Some of the pews were box pews, and others were the more traditional long pews, but still with doors on each end.  Church members would’ve paid for their pews annually.

Here is a glimpse inside a box pew, outfitted as it would’ve been in the 1700′s with a foot warmer, writing tables, inkwell, and quill  pen for taking sermon notes.

The church clock.

During the British occupation of Boston, the redcoats trained their horses in this church.  A horseshoe, found in the building, dates back to that occupation.  And this sign is embedded in the woodworking of the gallery.  If the print is too small for you to read, it says, “During the occupation of Boston by the British, this Meeting House was used by the Queens Light Dragoons as a Riding School.  Soon  after the evacuation WASHINGTON, looking down from this gallery on the wreck which the British had left, reverently expressed surprise that those who venerated their own church, should have desecrated ours.”

Among the many items on display there was this vial of tea and a tea wrapper with Chinese lettering, and according to the sign, “Tradition has it that these tea leaves, as well as the Chinese tea label, are souvenirs from the Boston Tea Party.”

To help their visitors warm up on such a frigid day, cups of tea were offered to all.  I was grateful to drink my tea, as a free American citizen, and grateful to all those brave patriots who dumped the British tea in the harbor.

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