Paul Revere House

Print depicting Paul Revere riding a horse into Lexington giving alarm to the town. Buildings are shown along the road as townspeople are shown assembling in confusion.
Paul Revere's Ride

Print based on WPA Mural by Aiden Lassell Ripley at the Lexington, Mass. Post Office. Courtesy National Archives.

 

"Listen my children and you shall hear..."

On the evening of April 18, 1775 Boston artisan and Patriot Paul Revere set out from his home in North Square to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of their potential arrest by a detachment of British Soldiers. There were countless riders that night spreading the general alarm, but following the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" in 1860 Paul Revere became an American legend. Because this was the home of the famous "Midnight Rider" and silversmith, early preservationists raised money to purchase and preserve the home as a historic site. Though the Revere family only lived in the house for about ten years, they lived there during the Revolution—the most transformative and uncertain era of their generation.

 
 
The Revere House is a two story wooden building painted gray. The high pitched roof is cedar shingle with a chimney on the right end of the house. The windows are panes of diamond glass. Shutters are only on the first floor.

A Colonial Home in a Bustling Seaport

Robert Howard, a wealthy Boston Merchant, constructed the house sometime around 1680. Though it would change hands many times, it has always remained in the same place on North Square. Located in the densest and oldest neighborhood—the North End—the house was situated in a hub of innovation of sorts for its day. The neighborhood was home and workplace for many skilled artisans, tradesman, and merchants. By the mid-1700s the home was a modest dwelling compared to the large mansions of Boston’s elite. Nonetheless, it was a perfect home for an aspiring middling family.

The Most Famous Residents – The Revere Family

Revere himself was the son of a French immigrant father and a mother descended from the earliest Puritan settlers of New England. Revere apprenticed to his father where he learned the highly skilled trade of gold and silver smithing. When Revere purchased the house on North Square, Revere was already a war veteran, a master silversmith, a husband, and a father of six children. Revere’s wife Sarah managed the household and cared for the children while Paul handled the family business. Revere’s workshop was elsewhere in the neighborhood while a storefront was located near the markets of Faneuil Hall.

Sarah Revere died in 1773 from complications of giving birth to her eighth child. Paul Revere remarried a few months later to a woman named Rachel Walker. Rachel was critical in continuing to managing the household that would only continue to grow. She and Paul would have another eight children together while she continued to raise and nurture her stepchildren. Sadly, because of such high mortality rates in the colonial period, only six of Sarah’s children and five of Rachel’s children survived into maturity. Of those eleven, only five children survived their father.

 
Black and white photograph of the Paul Revere House as a three story building serving as a tenement and storefront.
The Paul Revere House sometime around 1898.

Courtesy Boston Public Library

After the Reveres

The Reveres occupied the house for a short time in its history. By 1780 the family had moved to a newer home and began renting out the North Square property. In 1800 Revere sold the house. In the nineteenth century the home became a sailor and immigrant boarding house. By the turn into the twentieth century, the old house had become a tenement with shops on the lower level. When the building faced demolition the Great Grandson of Paul Revere, John P. Reynolds Jr, stepped in to save the house and purchased it. By 1908 funds had been raised to restore the home largely to its 17th century appearance.

The Paul Revere house became one of the first and oldest preserved homes in the United States. Today it stands as the oldest residential building, still standing, in historic Boston.

To learn more about the Reveres, the house, and the "Midnight Ride," visit the Paul Revere House website.

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