Boston – Back Bay: New Old South Church

Boston – Back Bay: New Old South Church
old church
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The Old South Church in Boston, also known as the New Old South Church or Third Church, located at 645 Boylston Street on Copley Square, was built in 1874 to the Venetian Gothic design of Charles Amos Cummings and Willard Thomas Sears. The church building is one of the most significant examples of the impact on American architecture by British cultural theorist and architectural critic John Ruskin.

This United Church of Christ (Congregational) meeting house is home to one of the older religious communities in the United States, organized by dissenters from Boston’s First Church in 1669, and from that time known as the Third Church in Boston. The congregation first met in their 1670 Cedar Meeting House, and then at the Old South Meeting House. Members of the congregation have included Samuel Adams, , William Dawes, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Sewall, and Phillis Wheatley. In 1773, Samuel Adams gave the signals from the Old South Meeting House for the "war whoops" that started the Boston Tea Party. During the Unitarian Movement of the early 19th century, Old South was the sole Congregational Church in Boston to Adhere to the doctrine of Trinitarianism. In 1816 Old South Church joined with Park Street Church to form the City Mission Society, a social justice society to serve Boston’s urban poor. During the American Civil War, Old South became a recruiting center for the Union Army under minister Jacob Manning.

Construction of the new church began in 1872. The exterior is built primarily of Roxbury conglomerate, or puddingstone, with ornamentation of striped arches, tracery, and ironwork. The trademark campanile, or tower, rises to a height of 246-feet and houses the church’s 2,020-pound bell. Designed by Allen and Collens in the 1930’s, it replaced the original tower which had begun to list and had to be dismantled. Centered above the Sanctuary on the east side is a copper the lantern, a copper clad cupola surrounded by twelve ornate gothic arched windows. The interior is of plaster with Italian cherry woodwork. The screen of wooden arches behind the choir was adapted from the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Stained glass windows are by Clayton and Bell of London in 15th century English style.

Old South Church National Register #70000690 (1970)

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