Boston Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Boston

Boston's many great churches are among the most precious of the city's numerous architectural jewels. What makes these artworks special are their unique styles, elegant facades and long history. Take this self guided walk to witness these architectural wonders of Boston.
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Boston Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Boston Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old North Church
  • King's Chapel
  • Park Street Church
  • Church of the Covenant
  • First Baptist Church
  • Old South Church
  • Trinity Church
1
Old North Church

1) Old North Church (must see)

Old North Church (officially, Christ Church in the City of Boston), at 193 Salem Street in the North End of Boston, is the oldest active church in the city and a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1723, it was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect who was responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire.

A seminal location in American history, this is where the "One if by land, and two if by sea" lanterns shone, and from where Paul Revere's ride signaled the coming invasion of British soldiers into the city and marked the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Individual visitors may wish to go inside this red brick church, the oldest in Boston, to hear more about the role of the church on that famous night in April 1775, learn about the church's history, and actually climb the stairs in the steeple (additional fee).

More recent history is reflected in a most unusual War Memorial for American soldiers who had lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (or the so-called "wars on terror"). Dog tags for each soldier who had lost his life had been hung on a chain in 15 rows, acting as wind chimes when the breezes blow across the church grounds. In addition, a small bronze wreath of poppies was set on a pedestal placed in a rock garden in front of the dog tags to commemorate soldiers who also had fought for the British and the Commonwealth forces.

Tip:
Inside the church is a bust of George Washington, which the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly remarked as the best likeness of him he'd ever seen.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
The church is closed to visitors on Tuesday
2
King's Chapel

2) King's Chapel (must see)

King's Chapel is an independent Christian Unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "Unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was formerly called the "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.

Inside, the church is characterized by wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand-carved by William Burbeck and his apprentices in 1758. The current uniform appearance of the pews dates from the 1920s. Music has long been an important part of King's Chapel, which acquired its first organ in 1723. The present organ, the sixth installed in the Chapel, was built by C. B. Fisk in 1964. The local burying ground is the site of the graves of many historic figures.

Why You Should Visit:
Another example of a historically relevant edifice in the heart of Boston.
Architecturally speaking, it is simple, yet the craft of the details is exceptional.

Tip:
Entry into the church is free; however, donations are accepted at the front entrance.
They offer a couple of tours (Bells & Bones + Art & Architecture) for a fee – take them!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct); Fri, Sat, Mon: 10am-4pm; Sun: 1:30-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Park Street Church

3) Park Street Church (must see)

The Park Street Church (built 1810) is an active Conservative Congregational Church in Boston standing at the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street. The church's steeple rises to 217 feet and remains a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The steeple is seen as the terminus of both Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street, two of Boston's radial avenues.

The temple is adjacent to the historic Granary Burying Ground. The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 1, 1810 and construction was completed by the end of the year, under the guidance of Peter Banner (architect), Benajah Young (chief mason) and Solomon Willard (woodcarver). Banner took inspiration from several early pattern books, and his design is reminiscent of a London church by Christopher Wren. The church became known as "Brimstone Corner", in part because of the missionary character of its preaching, and in part because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812.

Why You Should Visit:
Considering the size of numerous modern skyscrapers and tall buildings across the U.S., it is interesting to think that, back in the early years, this was the tallest building in the country.
Worth walking by to admire the architecture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Church of the Covenant

4) Church of the Covenant (must see)

The Church of the Covenant (a merger of Central Congregational Church and First Presbyterian Church) is a Boston landmark, built in 1865-1867 by the Central Congregational Church and now affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ.

Built of Roxbury puddingstone in Gothic Revival style, it was one of the first churches to relocate in the new Back Bay and was built largely with funds donated by Benjamin E. Bates, an industrialist who founded Bates College. Designed by Richard M. Upjohn, the son & partner of Richard Upjohn, who insisted on "a high Gothic edifice ... which no ordinary dwelling house would overtop." It has a 240-foot high steeple, that overtops the Bunker Hill Monument. In the 1890s the sanctuary was redecorated by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. with stained-glass windows and mosaics and an electric-light chandelier designed by Tiffany's Jacob Adolphus Holzer for the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893.

Why You Should Visit:
While there are several famous churches in the neighborhood, this one is distinguished by its 42 Tiffany stain-glass windows, the largest collection anywhere.
It is said that these paintings include at least 9 types of specialty glass and up to 5 layers that allow for creative, painterly effects. Beautiful is an understatement.

Tip:
Tours are given daily in season; donations accepted. Be sure to get a free brochure that will bring the Tiffany glass to life. Or if you are lucky, you may have a docent to show you the highlights.
If you arrive in time for the 10:30 service on Sunday and are so inclined, you can feel welcomed by the very friendly congregation and the restored Welte organ, a must for organ fans.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
First Baptist Church

5) First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church (or "Brattle Square Church") is a historic Baptist church established in 1665. It first met secretly on Noddle's Island and then in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. Since 1882 it has been located at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Clarendon Street in the Back Bay.

Featuring ivy-covered walls and a prominent tower with distinctive carvings by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty), representing four sacraments with faces of famous Bostonians (including Longfellow and Hawthorne), Abraham Lincoln, and Bartholdi's friends of that era (including Garibaldi), this building highlights many of the Richardsonian Romanesque qualities that would later be shown in the nearby Trinity Church, one of Richardson's masterpieces. The Baptist Church's tower can clearly be seen as part of Boston's skyline when viewed from the Cambridge side of the Charles river.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Old South Church

6) Old South Church (must see)

Old South Church is a church of the United Church of Christ in Boston, Massachusetts. The church building was designed between 1870 and 1872 by the Boston architectural firm of Cummings and Sears in the Venetian Gothic style. The style follows the precepts of the British cultural theorist and architectural critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) as outlined in his treatise The Stones of Venice. Old South Church in Boston remains one of the most significant examples of Ruskin's influence on American architecture. A tall tower or campanile is the trademark feature of Old South and is visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The tower, on the western end of the church, rises to a height of 246' and houses the church's 2020 pound bell. The interior of Old South is exuberant yet quietly modulates the mix of rich materials: highly carved Italian cherry woodwork, limestone, stenciled plaster, and stained glass.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful example of "Venetian Gothic" church architecture.
The old ornate wood pews, stained glass, and architecture all testify to its mid-19th-century construction.
The vibrancy of the colors is unreal, especially if you're lucky enough to visit when the sun's rays hit the windows.

Tip:
Try to visit when a concert is scheduled. An organ concert may be the best moment.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm (or later); Sat: 10am-4pm; Sun: 8:30am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Trinity Church

7) Trinity Church (must see)

After its former site on Summer Street burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, the current church complex was erected under the direction of Rector Phillips Brooks, one of the best-known and most charismatic preachers of his time. The church and parish house were designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and construction took place from 1872 to 1877, when the complex was consecrated. Situated on Copley Square in Back Bay, Trinity Church is the building that established Richardson's reputation. It is the birthplace and archetype of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, characterized by a clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower. The building's plan is a modified Greek Cross with four arms extending outwards from the central tower, which stands 211 ft tall. Trinity Church is the only building from the original 1885 list still included in the American Institute of Architects's current top ten list.

Why You Should Visit:
Fantastically impressive church, especially from the outside where it's just profoundly architecturally outstanding – almost ornate in its appearance.
Positioned in Copley Square so plenty of opportunities to sit a while and enjoy it and other impressive, though different, buildings in the vicinity.

Tip:
Go in and take the self-guided audio tour – you won't be disappointed.

Opening Hours:
Sun: 7:45am-8pm; Tue: 10am-5pm; Wed-Sat: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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