Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail

Lessons From The Boston Freedom Trail

Can you believe that I have not chaperoned a field trip for PickyKidPix since she was in Kindergarten?! And now she is about to graduate from 5th grade to start Middle School!

I had two choices, The Museum of Fine Arts and The Freedom Trail so I asked my daughter to choose and she asked me to come on The Freedom Trail. I had not been on The Freedom Trail myself in over 12 years since we moved to Boston!

 

A History Lesson from The Freedom Trail

We met at Faneuil Hall, the cradle of liberty, where I discovered that this was a guided tour.  This is Bob Miller, our tour guide, from Lessons on Liberty: Boston Freedom Trail walking tours with an 18th century living historian.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Originally the Freedom Trail was a red-painted line created to help tourists sightsee since Boston is a crazy, confusing city to navigate.

My mom friend Melissa sussed out that he was a graduate of the North Bennet Street School of fine carpentry, the Harvard of cabinet making. We also passed his school on the tour.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Bob Miller of Lessons in Liberty in front of Faneuil Hall and Sam Adams statue.

Our tour guide seemed to be particularly expert in architecture which made me pretty happy! I love hearing about the built environment. The first interesting factoid I learned about John Hancock was how wealthy he was. The example he gave is that someone like Paul Revere, who was comfortably middle class, owned two sets of clothes. One set was for Monday through Saturday (worn 6 days in a row) and the other was Sunday Best. When Sunday Best got worn out, it was downgraded to every day and a new set would be made for Sunday Best.

When John Hancock went to England to shop for clothes, he had so many made that he had to hire an entire ship to bring it back! John Hancock was a billionaire by American Revolution standards!

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

He built this house for his brother, who, as the younger brother, did not inherit the same vast fortune as he did.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Ebenezer Hancock’s house served as a kind of Federal Reserve storing the money used to finance the war.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

It’s the sideways bricks that reveals the extravagant cost of the house. The narrow bricks are bricked turned in, thus making the walls stronger. The more narrow bricks, the more costly the building. This would be considered a “McMansion” in Colonial times.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Ye Olde Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in America, built in 1714  and 1715.  In 1771 printer Isaiah Thomas published his newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy, from the second floor.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Paul Revere’s house is the two-story dark house in the middle with the small windows.

Paul Revere is known as a silversmith but he was actually much more than that. It’s just that his silverware, since it was used only for special occasions, survived. Besides making pewterware, he also made church bells and had a cannon factory. He did dental work and was the the first health inspector determinng that a dead body must be buried six feet deep. And he was the one who covered the State House dome in copper.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Only this plaque marks Governor Hutchinson’s house. It was razed during the American revolution and he was forced to return to England despite having been born and raised in the Colonies.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston, Old North Church, Old North Church tower,

The Old North Church was the site for the lantern signal of One if by Sea and Two if by Land. Bob corrected history as Paul Revere was the third person to give word that the British were coming, but the lesson here is that P.R. is everything. William Dawes had arrived an hour before to give warning but it was believed that Israel Bisel who was the first one there.

The actual phrase used was, “The regulars are out.” NOT “The British are coming. Everyone was British at this time.

A son-in-law of Paul Revere’s wrote the famous poem 90 years later to ingratiate himself and he took certain liberties in his poem that we all now think was fact.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston, excavation

We were lucky to watch an archeological dig on the way to the Old North Church. The small backyards served as each family’s “town dump” for all their garbage so excavating through the layers produces a snapshot in time of what people ate and how they lived.

 

The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum

I had been to the Boston Tea Party Ship  and Museum more than a decade ago but this was my first time after their extensive renovations. The exhibit is now an interactive experience recreating both the before and after consequences of the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston, Boston Tea Party ship, Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party ship replica has tea barrels to throw overboard.

We started off in a meeting room — the overflow when Faneuil Hall filled up — led by a charismatic Sam Adams.

This lovely Daughter of Liberty taught us the local lingo of the time that included “Fi” accompanied by a hand twiddling along one’s nose, hissing and booing. We raised our fists to display enthusiam with a “Huzzah” as well.

Boston Tea Party, The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Each ticket holder received a card with an actual person who was there that fateful day along with their short bio. This was a nice touch to really feel what it must have been like.
The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston, Boston Tea Party membersThe Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston

Finally, a fun fact. This is the narrowest building in America! It’s also on the Freedom Trail!

The Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail, Freedom Trail Boston, Paul Revere Boston, narrowest house in Boston

p.s. I’ll be posting next on American Revolution chapter books for kids if you want background reading before or after your walk.

p.p.s. A mom friend told me about a free app that also gives background history about the Boston Freedom Trail as you walk it.

Freedom Trail Walking Tour

Boston Freedom Trail app

Freedom Trail Walking Tour is the ultimate interactive app that introduces you to Boston’s famous Freedom Trail. This app makes it fun to learn about Colonial Revolutionary Boston. You get maps, pictures, descriptions and YouTube videos of all 17 historical stops on the trail.

p.p.p.s. Our tour did not include the location of the Boston Massacre:

The Boston Massacre was the killing of five colonists by British regulars on March 5, 1770. It was the culmination of tensions in the American colonies that had been growing since Royal troops first appeared in Massachusetts in October 1768 to enforce the heavy tax burden imposed by the Townshend Acts.

Unlike the Boston Tea Party which exact location is still disputed. The location of the Boston Massacre is well known. It is the intersection of Devonshire and State streets in downtown Boston. There is a circle of cobblestones in front of the Old State House that commemorates the Boston Massacre.

site of Boston Massacre

image of Old State House from Ask Miss A

Boston Freedom Trail, The Freedom Trail

 

Here are American Revolution Chapter Books to accompany this trip.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

18 Comments

  1. Love this post! We walked the Freedom Trail when we first got to Boston (Emma was a baby!), but your post makes me want to go walk it again.

    And we need to go to the Tea Party Ship – haven’t done that!
    maryanne recently posted…Teaching Kids Independence: Learning How to Ask For and Offer HelpMy Profile

  2. Holly

    Thank you!! My family is heading to Boston Saturday for the first time! Your article and app suggestion are exactly what I need! Thank you!

  3. Mia, I think you made the right decision. The Freedom Trail is a favorite of mine. I have not been to the Tea Party Ship, but I will definitely put that on my list.
    bamauthor recently posted…MIDNIGHT EXPRESSMy Profile

  4. Lucía

    Thanks for the post! We are visiting Boston July 16-19 and we’ll come back after 5 years . We did the red line then but Ines and Angie were 9 and 7 at the time total different experience now!!!

    • Hi Lucia,
      I hope you get great weather! If you do decide to the Freedom Trail again, I honestly would recommend the guided tour. He sells tickets on his site and it’s pretty reasonable. If DIY is better for you, I heard the app is great. It’s geo-tracked so the info matches where you are standing.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Rising 4th Grade Summer Reading ListMy Profile

  5. Ann

    I can’t believe I’ve never walked the freedom trail. I need to make a summer bucket list!
    Ann recently posted…Origin of Christmas in JulyMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      Pick a day when it’s not too hot or too cold. This outing is so weather dependent. And be sure to stop by the North End for a break. There are great cafes, gelato shops and pasty stores. It’s right there too near Paul Revere’s house! I need to take the family on this as well. We’ve never done it as a family.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Rising 4th Grade Summer Reading ListMy Profile

  6. Cool–we’ll be in Boston this summer and will have to add this to the list!
    Asianmommy recently posted…Great Spots for kids in QuebecMy Profile

    • Hi AsianMommy,
      Have a wonderful time in Boston. If you decide to do the Freedom trail, please be sure to stop off in the North End (near Paul Revere’s house) at any of the cafes or gelato shops. It makes a nice break and the kids love it. There are also amazing “Cake Boss” Italian pastry shops. My kids love those! I am posting today with chapter books that make the American Revolution come alive so if you can get your kids to read any of them, they will be excited to see the Freedom Trail.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…10 Great American Revolution Chapter BooksMy Profile

  7. Thank you for sharing your post with me. I think I was probably in the fifth grade when I last was in Boston! I do not remember much for the trip except going to some really cool museums. Your post makes me think that my daughter (3rd grade) would really love to visit in the next few years!
    Eric VanRaepenbusch recently posted…Happy Birthday Blair Lent – January 22My Profile

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