advertisement

Author Henry James called this 1809 structure with a 217-foot steeple “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” The church has accumulated an impressive number of firsts: The first Protestant missionaries to Hawaii left from here in 1819; the prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison gave his first antislavery speech here on July 4, 1829; and “America” (“My Country [‘]Tis of Thee”) was first sung here on July 4, 1831. You’re standing on “Brimstone Corner,” named either for the passion of the Congregational ministers who declaimed from the pulpit or for the fact that gunpowder (made from brimstone) was stored in the basement during the War of 1812. This was part of the site of a huge granary (grain storehouse) that became a public building after the Revolutionary War. In the 1790s, the sails for USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") were manufactured in that building.

To continue on the Freedom Trail: Walk away from the Common on Tremont Street.