Old South Meeting House
Built in 1729, the Old South Meeting House is best known for its role during of Boston Tea Party. On December 16, 1773, several thousand colonists gathered at the meeting house to discuss the proper response to British taxation. From this historic church, the participants launched the most famous political protest in colonial history.
Backstory and Context
The Puritans first built a wooden meetinghouse, called the “Third Church,” on this site in 1669. Over the years, the congregation grew and the building became too small for their services, so the existing structure was built in 1729. It was the largest building in colonial Boston at the time. According to the Old South Meeting House’s website, it was used both for church services and public gatherings. Town meetings were typically held at Faneuil Hall. However, if the expected crowd was too large for that venue, the meeting would be moved to the more spacious Old South Meeting House.
Revolutionaries met in this building prior to the War to discuss their opposition to the series of Acts passed by the British Parliament and imposed upon them in the new colony. On June 14, 1768, they met in this building to protest the legislation which allowed the British Navy to force New England sailors into its service. Nearly two years later, on the day following the Boston Massacre which killed five residents of the city, another meeting was held. Originally scheduled for Faneuil Hall, it was moved to the Old South Meeting House to accommodate the thousands of furious colonists. They demanded that Britain remove both regiments of the soldiers, stating that the soldiers and the colonists could no longer survive together.
Colonists also met several times in 1773 to protest the controversial tax on tea which had been levied by Britain upon the people of Boston. These meetings led up to the famous Boston Tea Party celebrated in New England history.
Another interesting historical note about the Old South Meeting House concerns the clock on the building’s exterior. The tower clock was added to the structure in 1768. Today the clock remains the nation's oldest tower clock (that was made in America) and which continues to operate in its original location.