Old South Meeting House – Freedom Trail Stop 8 Overview

Old South Tower Meeting House - Freedom Trail Stop 8 - 1729

Old South Tower Meeting House – Freedom Trail Stop 8 –

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Home of Rebel Dissension

As Boston’s largest building in the Colonial period, Old South was the site of many important gatherings and became the emblematic home of the Patriot cause.

Admission $6, seniors & and students $5, Children (6-18) $1 – AAA/WGBH discount

Open Daily all year: April 1 – October 31 9:30-5; November 1 – March 31 10-4

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Official website

National Park Service website


Handicap access: wheelchair accessible, listening devices available

Public transportation: State Street (Blue/Orange Lines), Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line).

Plan about 1/2 hour to view the interior and the exhibits.

For more about the Boston Tea Party, click here

Background Information

The Old South congregation was created when a group of dissenters split off from the First Church in 1669. Their original meeting house, a simple cedar sided building, was built on a part of what was the corn and potato patch of John Winthrop – the first Puritan leader. After Winthrop died, the land was owned by influential preacher John Norton. It was donated to the congregation by John’s widow, Mary.

The original meeting house was the site of Benjamin Franklin’s baptism, which took place on a wintry night in January of 1706. The first meeting house was torn down in early 1729. The current structure, based on Christopher Wren’s work in London, was dedicated in April of 1730.

The new meeting house was the largest building in Boston and was host to many significant meetings. As the conflicts with England amplified during pre-Revolutionary years, it became known in London for its role as a key place for Colonial protests. Almost every significant Patriot leader held court here – including James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Dr. Joseph Warren.

Perhaps the most famous meetings associated with Old South are those that preceded the Boston Tea Party. At the final meeting, over 5,000 townspeople (1/3 of Boston’s population at the time) heard Samuel Adams say “Gentlemen, this meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” Legend has it that this was the signal for about 100 Patriots dressed as Native Americans to march to Boston Harbor and begin the Boston Tea Party.

Old South Pews & Pulpit

Old South was such a symbol of Patriot dissension that during Boston’s occupation during the Siege of Boston (1775-1776), British troops ripped out the pews and pulpit and used them for fuel. It was filled with dirt and turned it into a riding school for the British Cavalry. After the war, it took almost eight years to raise the money to refurbish the Meeting House to make it usable as a place of worship.

Old South was almost destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872. Soon after the fire, it was soldand the congregation moved to Copley Square in Back Bay. Today it is a museum and one of the most important and interesting stops on the Freedom Trail.

Benjamin Franklin’s Birthplace

Site of Ben Franklin's Birth

Site of Ben Franklin’s Birth

The site of Benjamin Franklin’s birthplace is just across the street from Old South at the location of the current 17 Milk Street. Ben was the eighth child of the ten children of Josiah Franklin and his second wife, Abiah. (Overall, he was the fifteenth of seventeen for Josiah.)

Today it is an office building.