Old South Church, Boston, MA, USA

Although the building pictured here only dates to the 1870s, the Old South Congregation is one of the oldest (1669) and most significant in US history.

It originally met in the Cedar Meeting House in Washington Street and it was here that Benjamin Franklin was baptised in 1706. Other prominent early members of the church include Samuel Adams (one of the founding fathers of the USA), William Dawes (Paul Revere’s fellow rider), Phillis Wheatley (the US’ first published black poet) and Elizabeth Vergoose (said to be the original Mother Goose).

By the 1770s the Congregation was meeting at the Old South Meeting House and it was here, in 1773, that Samuel Adams gave the signal which kicked off the Boston Tea Party which in turn began the end of British Rule in America.

By the 1870s the Congregation felt it needed a church and so in 1872 construction began on the church to a design by Cummings and Sears of Boston. It became known, rather confusingly, as the New Old South Church and was competed by around 1875. The style is what Europeans might call Italianate but is referred to in the US as Ruskinian Italian Gothic, the “Ruskinian” part being because John Ruskin, the English critic, was a great advocate of the style.

The bell tower began to list early after its completion and by the late 1920s was considered a danger, so it was demolished and rebuilt during the 1930s. Tiffany designed some work for the interior of the church at this time, but it was later painted over and subsequent renovations have returned the interiors to designs closer to those of Cummings and Sears’ original.

Photo - Roy Barton

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