One of the most pleasant stops on the Freedom Trail, this 2 1/2-story wood structure presents history on a human scale. Revere (1734–1818) was living here when he set out for Lexington on April 18, 1775, a feat immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” (“Listen my children and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”). Inside are neatly arranged and identified 17th- and 18th-century furnishings and artifacts, including the famous Revere silver, considered some of the finest anywhere. The oldest house in downtown Boston, it was built around 1680, bought by Revere in 1770, and put to a number of uses before being turned into a museum in 1908.
The thought-provoking tour is self-guided, with staff members around in case you have questions. The format allows you to linger on the artifacts that hold your interest. Revere and his two wives had a total of 16 children—he called them “my lambs”—and he supported the family with a thriving silversmith’s trade. At his home, you’ll get a good sense of the risks he took in the run-up to the Revolutionary War. Across the courtyard is the home of Revere’s Hichborn cousins, the Pierce/Hichborn House ★. The 1711 Georgian-style home is a rare example of 18th-century middle-class architecture. It’s suitably furnished and shown only by guided tour (usually twice a day at busy times). Contact the Paul Revere House for schedules and reservations.
A new Education and Visitor Center, in an 1835 building adjoining the house, is slated to open in late 2014. The center will give visitors with disabilities access to the second floor of the Revere House.
Before you leave North Square, look across the cobblestone plaza at Sacred Heart Church. It was established in 1833 as the Seamen’s Bethel, a church that ministered to the mariners who frequented the area. Wharves ran up almost this far in colonial days; in the 19th century, this was a notorious red-light district.
To continue on the Freedom Trail: The trail leaves the square on Prince Street and runs along Hanover Street past Clark Street. (The first church you see, on Hanover St., is St. Stephen’s.) Before turning onto Prince Street, take a few steps down Garden Court Street and look for no. 4, on the right. The private residence was the birthplace of Rose Fitzgerald, later Rose Kennedy, Pres. John F. Kennedy’s mother.