Arts & Culture Community

Old North Church Creating New “Longfellow Garden” Courtyard

The Old North Foundation has filed a grant application with the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund to remodel its garden and courtyard area adjacent to the church at 193 Salem Street. 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 unanimously voted to support the project.

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 Beacon Hill Garden Club and the Old North Foundation are launching a fundraising campaign. This project is part of a larger $10,000,000 project 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. The Beacon Hill Garden Club has been a partner of the Old North Church for over sixty years, helping to maintain the gardens and courtyards on the church’s half-acre campus.

The reconfiguration of the Washington Garden and Courtyard is guided by the Old North Foundation’s desire for additional space where the tens of thousands of students who visit the church every year can learn more about their nation’s heritage. The current Washington Garden is a walled space dominated by a single, overgrown tree that can fit just a handful of visitors at one time.

“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.