Revolutionary War Historical Article
Paul Revere's House
by Donald N. Moran
Editors Note: This article was reprinted from the October 1984 Edition of the Valley Compatriot Newsletter
"Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year"
Every American has heard this immortal. poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And every American knows the story of Paul Revere. In the City of Boston, he has been given a position befitting his accomplishments. He is Boston's HERO. I have no doubt that Longfellow's poem helped raise him above other prominent men, as another poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem "Old Ironsides" saved the U.S.S. Constitution from being scrapped and now proudly displayed in Boston Harbor. Nevertheless, because of his historic importance the people of Boston have preserved much of the marvelous heritage he left behind. His house is now a National Monument and operated by the Paul Revere Memorial Association.
This famous old house is the oldest wood frame building in the City of Boston. It is also the only colonial residence of its type to be situated in the middle of a major U.S. city. It was built after the great fire of 1676 on the site of the destroyed home of Reverend Increase Mather. The house was ninety-four years old when Paul Revere purchased it in l770. The house is low studded and two stories with the second story projecting and overhanging the first. The tour guide advised that the Revere's had a third story added to accommodate their eleven children (five more died in infancy). Perhaps eleven children living in that small house may have been a secondary motive for Revere's strange riding habits.
After paying a small admission fee, you can enter the house though the brick courtyard and into the kitchen. On the first floor is the living room and kitchen. Both have large fireplaces dating back to the 1670's. The one in the living room is large enough for a full grown man to stand upright in. The kitchen fireplace is exactly the way it was in Revere's day. The tour guide told us that the old crane was used by him. The original window frames appear to be sash and casement types with leaded diamond shaped panes. Tn the living room on the original plastered walls was found an architectural landscape paper. On the back of it we were told was a "hallmark" dating the paper to some time before the revolution. Possibly, Revere had it wallpapered when he bought it.
On the second floor there are two bedrooms. One is completely refurnished as it was when Revere slept there. You cannot help but notice the twenty-three inches wide floor boards upon which the Revere family walked. Boston historians believe that Revere lived in the house before he bought it in 1770. The records show that he paid the sum of 213 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence for it. Things were not that much different then - he had to finance one hundred and sixty pounds. It is also believed that the Sons of Liberty held secret meetings in the house. It is also from the front door of this house that Revere went forth on his famous ride.
On the anniversary of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere displayed illustrated pictures of the event. We have read that the transparencies were so gruesome that the spectators were struck " . . with solemn silence . . their countenances covered with a melancholy gloom." In the south window was the appearance of the ghost of Christopher Snider, a Boston boy of eleven who was killed by a merchant named Richardson who insisted on importing English goods and who was attempting to threaten a crowd outside his shop. The picture showed the youth "with one of his fingers in the wound; endeavoring to stop the blood issuing therefrom; near him his friends weeping; at a small distance, a monumental pyramid with his name on top, and the names of those killed on the fifth of March around the base." The quotation is from the Boston Gazette for March 11, 1771. In the next window another illustration, this time depicting the British Soldiers drawn up in line and firing at the people before them. Revere depicted the ground covered with the dead and wounded. He showed blood streaming from those wounds and over the display he wrote "FOUL PLAY." In the third window, he placed the figure of a woman, representing America, sitting on the stump of a tree, with a staff in her hand and the cap of liberty on its top. One of the lady's feet was placed on top of a soldier's head. All and all for the 18th century, it was a marvelous bit of propaganda. It also serves to give the house a place in American history. It was not just the residence of a well known patriot, but actually played a role in the history its owner made. The house is truly a monument to those early days before the start of the armed conflict.
According to the guide and
brochures, the house is furnished
with numerous pieces of furniture
given to the Association, as well
as well as several pieces which
belonged to Revere.
If you visit Boston, be sure and see the Revere House. It is much more than just a house, it is a living tribute to a hero and to the people of Boston for preserving our heritage.
Across the street from Revere house is a small square, Paul Revere Park. It has several commemorative plaques and a nice place to rest one's tired feet.