Old North Church and Foundation received a grant of $46,350 for its Longfellow Garden courtyard project, announced Friday by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh with other recipients of the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund Grants. Pending the approval of the Boston City Council, a total of $856,257 will be distributed among eight projects, designed to enhance and improve public spaces through restoration and public art.
The grant will cover the design development of a display of the iconic Longfellow poem combined with a water feature in the North End. “Edward Ingersoll Browne left an invaluable legacy to the City of Boston, creating a fund that ensures our public spaces remain places of inspiration,” said Mayor Walsh in a press release. “The grants announced today will help to enhance local neighborhoods, schools and communities, ensuring art remains accessible to all.”
Earlier this year, Stephen T. Ayres, Vicar of the Old North Church and Executive Director of the Old North Foundation, presented plans to the North End / Waterfront neighborhood groups. Both NEWRA and NEWNC voted unanimously to support the project. In May 2016, the Beacon Hill Garden Club also contributed $30,000 as a Founders Fund Award toward the courtyard garden.
The proposed design will enlarge the opening to the garden, move trees and plants to the edge of the garden in raised planters, and erect a large glass and water feature on which will be etched Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”. The large center tree will be removed because it has overgrown the space. In addition to its reconfiguration, the Washington Garden will be renamed to the Longfellow Garden.
In anticipation of the church’s three hundredth birthday in 2023 and the nation’s two hundred and fiftieth birthday in 2026, the Longfellow Garden project is part of a larger $10,000,000 campaign to repair and restore the church to her colonial appearance. The Old North Church is expected to close for about one year during internal restoration which would be in 2019 or thereafter.
“Listen my children and you shall hear” – The Old North Church of Paul Revere fame is Boston’s oldest standing church and most visited historic site. “One, if by land, and, two, if by sea” is the most famous line of the most famous poem in American history. The creation of the Longfellow Garden on the grounds of the Old North Church will insure that future generations of Americans will continue to value this poem and honor the values of freedom and civic responsibility embodied in Longfellow’s stirring words.
The new Longfellow Garden will provide an outdoor classroom in which students can learn about the meaning and history of Longfellow’s poem. Plant materials will be chosen to reflect eighteenth century plants and themes. Raised planters will provide seating for the hundreds of thousands of visitors looking for a place to pause and reflect as they walk along Boston’s Freedom Trail.