Boston December 11, 2017
by Juliet White What Lies Beneath The Old North Church In Boston Is Creepy Yet Fascinating
The Old North Church is a Boston landmark that many visit as they travel along the Freedom Trail. You know it for its role in the American Revolution. After all, it was here that two lanterns were hung to warn people that the British were coming by sea. Founded in 1722, the Old North Church was previously called Christ Church. It’s the oldest church still standing in Boston.
These facts explain the building’s historical importance. But what makes the church creepy?
As you explore the church, you’re probably oblivious about what's beneath your feet. See, under the Old North Church is a crypt. A crypt that contains 1,100 burials.
That’s some serious overcrowding.
As a city, Boston grew quickly. This led to a severe shortage of burial places.
Members of the congregation here between 1732 to 1860, were interred in 37 brick vaults beneath the church. Each vault could house between twenty and forty coffins.
This caused a space and a cash flow problem.
In the middle of the 19th century, the church needed a practical solution to this issue.
Officials decided to clean out the tombs. Remains were transferred to a charnel pit behind the building. The church was then able to resell space in the vaults again. This solved the burial space crisis and raised funds once more.
The Old North Church was designed to let air move through the building. Usually that would be a good thing. However, this actually meant that air from the crypt drifted into the church itself.
Can you imagine trying to pay attention to a service while surrounded by the odor of decomposition?
In 1853, the city of Boston required crypts to be permanently closed for health reasons.
The Old North Church eventually complied in 1860.
During 1912, the church underwent restoration work. This included resealing the vaults.
You can actually go underground and view the crypt on the Behind The Scenes tour of the church.
Tickets currently cost $6 per person, with discounts for students, seniors, the military, and kids. The tour is physically demanding – and pretty creepy. But it also provides a fascinating glimpse into Boston’s past.
A trip to the Bell Ringing Chamber, where Paul Revere served as a bell ringer, is included in the same tour.
Pick up tickets at the Old North Church Gift Shop. These tours run throughout the year, except in January and February. They’re held on an hourly basis – or every half hour during the high season.
To learn more about the Behind The Scenes tours, visit the Old North Church’s website
Boston is filled with historic and beautiful churches. Discover more about them in our past article: “
These 13 Churches In Boston Will Leave You Absolutely Speechless.”
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