King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
One block east and across the street from the Granary Burying Ground is King’s Chapel and Burying Ground. Founded in 1686, King’s Chapel was constructed on the city’s burial ground. They could only build there because, being the Church of England, no one would sell a non-Puritan church land. So, here is food for thought- the Puritans fled England because of religious persecution, and then they persecuted other religions here!
When the congregation out grew the small wooden church they build one of stone in 1749. The stone church was constructed around the old wood one, and after it was finished they disassembled the old one, throwing it piece by piece out the windows.
Legend has it that those condemned to be hanged on Boston Common said their last prayers in the 13th pew of this church, now that’s really unlucky!
King’s Chapel Burying Ground is as old as Boston itself. The burying ground is the final resting place for John Winthrop, the first Governor of the Colony and Mary Chilton, the first women to step off the Mayflower at Plymouth. There is a plaque on the fence of the burying ground that states that William Dawes, who rode with Paul Revere on that fateful night in 1775, is buried there. However new research shows that he buried in Forest Hills Cemetery.
Behind King’s Chapel Church on School Street you’ll find a mosaic and a statue of Ben Franklin. These mark the site of America’s oldest public school, the Boston Latin School. Alumnus from this
school were four signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and Ben Franklin. However Dr. Franklin dropped out of school here. So does that mean Ben Franklin was Americas first dropout? The Boston Latin School still holds classes in Fenway.
Just down the street at the corner of School and Washington Street is the site of the Old Corner Books Store. Besides selling books in 1828, they also published books. From their presses came novels by Longfellow, Beecher, Dickens, Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, to name but a few. In its heyday those great writers would visit the shop. Because of this the site was called “Parnassus Corner,” after the home of the Greek Muses. The site was restored in 1960, and is currently a Chipotle and bagel shop.
Now, turn right and not far off you’ll see what looks like a church. This is the Old South Meeting House. This 1729 Puritan meeting house was the stage for many of the events leading to the American Revolution. One being the debate on the tax of tea, that led to the Boston Tea Party.
Also a member of this meeting house was Phillis Wheatley, a freed slave who became the first African-American to have a book published in 1773. A rare original edition of her book is on display there.