Old North Church

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
1 minute, 40 seconds

Operated by Old North Illuminated, Old North Church became most remembered from its role in the early American Revolutionary War. Visitors can take tours of the church's balcony, crypt, and bell-ringing chamber.


About Old North Church

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Robert Newman and John Pulling quietly entered Old North and carefully climbed to the top of the church's bell tower. They briefly hung two lanterns near the windows and made their escape. This signal, from the tallest structure in the town of Boston, served as an early warning that a detachment of the British Army was crossing the Charles River and heading west towards the towns of Lexington and Concord. By the end of the next night, the American Revolutionary War had begun.

Explore the role this church played in Colonial Boston by visiting The Old North Church & Historic Site.

Old North Church has been designated a "Site of Conscience" by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC). With over 350 members in 65 countries, the ICSC is the only global network helping historic sites, museums, and memory initiatives connect past struggles to today’s movements for human rights and social justice. For more information, please visit the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience website.


Operating Hours Old North Church & Historic Site is open for “pop-up” tourism hours on select weekdays in January and February. Hours are dependent on weather and staffing. Please check www.oldnorth.com on the day you’re in town to see if the site is open. Old North Church will be open for School Vacation Week, February 17 – 24, from 11am – 5pm. If you are interested in booking a field trip or private group visit, or have additional questions, please email jfishman@oldnorth.com.
Today's Hours: Loading...
All operating hours


Fees Admission fee.


AccessibilityOld North's sanctuary is accessible. Note: To avoid steps in the courtyard while following the Freedom Trail from downtown, you will have to make a left at Unity St., take the right on to Tileston St., then make a right on to Salem St.

Passport Stamp

Passport Stamp Passport to your National Parks stamp location. See all Boston locations.

Contact Info

Website: https://www.oldnorth.com/

Address: 193 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113


Things to Do


Belfry of Old North Church. The white belfry sits atop a brick base and an arched window is above. Atop the belfry is a tall spire with a golden weathervane.


Old North's Divided Congregation

Christ Church, long known as "Old North," has deep roots in Boston’s North End. Though it is remembered today as a symbol of patriot defiance, the story of Old North is a reflection of the deepening divisions between "Friends of the Government" and "Sons of Liberty" in Revolutionary Boston.

Built in 1723, Old North was an Anglican, or official church of England, rather than a Congregational, or Puritan, church. Although the Charter of 1692 required greater religious tolerance in Massachusetts, many Bostonians still feared the influence of the official Church of England. Nonetheless, many wealthy merchants, government officials, and skilled tradesmen were drawn to "Old North." The stained glass windows, expensive pews, and Georgian architecture represented a stunning contrast to the simplicity of Congregational churches like Old South Meeting House.

Despite being an Anglican church, "Old North" differed from other Church of England parishes in New England. While many people viewed Anglican churches as "Tory" or "Loyalist" congregations, Christ Church was split. Political and financial disputes plagued the church, resulting in the resignation of the church's minister and vocal Loyalist Rev. Mather Byles Jr. on April 18, 1775. That same night, the church's sexton, Robert Newman, and a vestryman (lay-leader) of the church, John Pulling, entered the sanctuary to aid the Patriot cause.

The Signal

According to an account by Paul Revere, on the night of April 18, 1775, he "called upon a friend, and desired him to make the Signals."1 That friend was John Pulling, and Pulling, with the assistance of Robert Newman, secretly fulfilled Revere's request. The Patriots arranged the signal just days before: one lantern if British regular troops march out of Boston by land, two if they depart by boats across the river. Revere himself was not waiting for this signal. He arranged the signal because it would be the fastest and most reliable means to send warning outside Boston. After conferring with Pulling, Revere stopped by his home, got on a boat, and was carefully rowed to Charlestown past a British warship. Revere could have been detained or arrested many times before even getting on horseback.

After the lanterns briefly hung, Pulling fled Boston to evade arrest. Newman, who lived with his mother, had British soldiers as boarders in his home. Newman had to climb through his bedroom window to avoid detection. The next day, British soldiers arrested and questioned Newman, but they ultimately released him. By the end of that same day, April 19, 1775, a running battle had unfolded along twenty miles of Massachusetts countryside. Thanks in part to the signals atop Christ Church, the Revolutionary War had begun.

Learn more about the history and legacy of this historic church on Old North Church's website.

  1. "Letter from Paul Revere to Jeremy Belknap, circa 1798," Massachusetts Historical Society, https://www.masshist.org/database/viewer.php?item_id=99.





Last updated: January 2, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Boston National Historical Park
21 Second Ave

Charlestown, MA 02129


617 242-5601

Contact Us