On the night of April 18, 1775, silversmith Paul Revere left his small wooden home in Boston’s North End and set out on a journey that would make him into a legend. Today that home is still standing at 19 North Square and has become a national historic landmark. It is downtown Boston’s oldest building and one of the few remaining from an early era in the history of colonial America.
The home was built about 1680 on the site of the former parsonage of the Second Church of Boston. Increase Mather, the Minister of the Second Church, and his family (including his son, Cotton Mather) occupied this parsonage from 1670 until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A large and fashionable new home was built at the same location about four years later.
The first owner of the new two-story townhouse on North Square was Robert Howard, a wealthy merchant. By the mid-eighteenth century, the front roof line of the building had been raised and a partial third story added. Paul Revere purchased the home in 1770, moving his family here from their Clark’s Wharf residence. The former merchant’s dwelling proved ideal for Revere’s growing family, which in 1770 included his wife, Sarah, five children, and his mother Deborah.
|Colonial garden in the Revere House Courtyard.||The Revere House Courtyard.|
Paul Revere owned the home from 1770 to 1800, although he and his family may not have lived here in some periods in the 1780s and 90s. After Revere sold the home in 1800, it soon became a tenement, and the ground floor was remodeled for use as shops, including at various times a candy store, cigar factory, bank and vegetable and fruit business. In 1902, Paul Revere’s great-grandson, John P. Reynolds Jr. purchased the building to ensure that it would not be demolished. Over the next few years, money was raised, and the Paul Revere Memorial Association formed to preserve and renovate the building. In April 1908, the Paul Revere House opened its doors to the public as one of the earliest historic house museums in the U.S. The Association still oversees the preservation and day-to-day operations of this national treasure.
An upstairs Chamber.
The restored dwelling, with its third story front extension removed, resembles its late seventeenth century appearance. Ninety percent of the structure, two doors, three window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material and raftering, are original. The heavy beams, large fireplaces, and absence of interior hallways recall colonial living arrangements. Upstairs you will find two chambers containing period furnishings belonging to the Revere family. Revere House tours are self-guided, complemented by illustrated text panels and museum interpreters.
As an added bonus, the courtyard features a 900 pound bell, a small mortar and a bolt from the USS Constitution, all made by Paul Revere & Sons.