By Phil Orlandella
Old North Church’s Reverend Stephen Ryres has gained support from community groups and local elected officials for the church to reconfigure the Washington Garden and the adjacent Washington Court Yard on the north side of the church campus.
A grant of $46,600 from the Browne Fund is being sought to design and fabricate the central feature of the new garden, a display of Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
Currently, the garden is a walled space dominated by a single, overgrown tree that can fit just a handful of visitors at one time.
The new garden will be renamed the Longfellow Garden and will provide an outdoor classroom in which students can learn about the meaning of history and Longfellow’s poems.
The proposed design will enlarge the opening to the garden, move plants to the edge of the garden, raise planting beds and erect a to be designed feature, such as a wall or fountain which will display the Wadsworth poem.
The church would like to partner with the City of Boston to conduct a design process to elicit the best ideas for what could become a very successful piece of public art.
Both neighborhood groups North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) and North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) supported the changes.
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Boston City Counselor Sal LaMattina also favored the church’s plan.
The initial design has been funded by Citizens Bank, the Society of Colonial Wars and the Beacon Hill Garden Club.
Elkus-Manfedi Architects and the Copley Wolff Landscape Architects led the design team.
In anticipation of the church’s three hundred birthday in 2023 and the Nation’s two hundred and fiftieth birthday in 2026, the Beacon Hill Garden Club and the Old North Foundation launched the campaign to reconfigure the Washington Garden.
The Old North Church is Boston’s oldest standing church and most visited historic site, greeting over half a million visitors each year. The Church Is Part of Boston National Historic Park and the Freedom Trail. The church sits on a half-acre campus that includes several historic buildings, courtyards and gardens in the North End.