Walking Tours of Boston

Walking Tours of Boston

Tuesday in Boston


We didn’t start at 4 a.m., but it was an early start as the group dribbled in for breakfast between 7:30 and 8 a.m.    It was a hot breakfast for all and gave us a good start.

Meredith then led us in devotions with the Parable of the Talents.   The group went around the room to share one talent they have and one they wish they have.   I mentioned I wish I had a musical talent, as each of these young people do.    The sharing time was good and positive.

A light rain greeted us on our walk to the T, but we prevailed.  Rode into Boston and arrived at the Congregational Library at 10 a.m.   We had a wonderful presentation and tour of the inside of the library.   We were shown a great collection of Bibles, some quite large and others tiny (so small you could put it in a locket.)    We were shown a copy of the Geneva Bible, printed before the King James Bible and used by the Pilgrims and Puritans.   They showed us Benjamin Franklin’s baptized record and this is the type of records that are kept here.   Old, handwritten records of Congregational Churches.

We  then went on a church history walking tour of Beacon Hill.   The Director of the Library (name) GAVE Us the tour.    We learned how the Congregational Church was THE church of Boston.   You had to belong to a church if you lived in the city – and for a longtime, the Congregational Church was the only church.     The church was the meeting house and at the center of life.  We learned about John Cotton and the history the First, Second, Third and Fourth Cong. Churches.   Also heard about Park Church.   So much of the Revolutionary War and its leaders was wrapped in the history of the Cong. Church.   Very powerful tour.

(Also learn about those pesky Quakers from Rhode Island who tried to come and save the congo folks – even getting naked and covering themselves with ashes then coming into a church service yelling repent!    Not sure the youth really heard that story!)

Michigan connections were all around us.    Our tour guides both had Michigan roots.  The Director of the library has family in GR.     The young woman (I have her name somewhere) who wrote the tour book we used, she grew up in Olivet MI.   She lived just a couple blocks from the Cong. Church there.   Her mother has an office in that church and works for the NAC.


We ate lunch at a food court – many went for Chinese food.   Some ate at McDonalds of Subway.    I had a seafood special from the Chinese place.   Plenty of scallops and shrimp.  Very good Crab Rangoon as well.


Our next walking tour was the Black Heritage Trail.   We chose to do this on our own.   We saw a number of historical homes and schools in regards to black history in Boston.   Boston was a very early place for freed slaves and Blacks to own property, attend public schools and integrated churches.     The sculpture/plaque of Col Shaw and the 54th Mass. Was very powerful.

As we walked, the architecture of the city was fascinating……everything from row houses, to small alleys – from ivy covered buildings to brick sidewalks – from lots of copper (and Iza gets the prize for knowing the story behind copper turning green and why it was used) – to Morgan knowing the story behind the ballast stones used for streets.

The highlight of the afternoon was our visit to the African Meeting House.   This is run by the National Park Service and is the oldest black church building in the US.   Our tour guide, again, have to add her name, was originally from Gary, IN and knew South Haven.   She asked about what was Gary famous for, and we mentioned steel and bad reputation.   Then she got us to say the Music Man (and not Michael Jackson ).    Gary also had the first black mayor in the US.  She was fabulous.   Funny, informative and very moving.

Much as we heard how important the Congregational Church was to Boston’s formation, we learned that Boston was very instrumental in the movement for equality for Blacks in the US.    She took us on a timeline of important dates regarding the abolitionist movement.   We learned that Frederick Douglas preached in this church and that both a men’s and woman’s movement started here.  

She then told the story of a young Robert Gould Shaw, born into privilege, who rebelled at school and was even kicked out.   He would go on to become a Colonel in Union Army and lead the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, and all Black regiment in the Civil War.   They took the lead in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner in Charleston.    This is the story of the movie Glory.    It brought tears to my eyes as she told of his leading the troops past the Mass. State Capital building, in front of the governor and Frederick Douglas.   Then, on horseback, marching his troops past his wife and young sister who were standing on a balcony.   Kissing his sword and saluting them.   His younger sister offering words that her brother looked like an angel and that she didn’t think she would see him again.

Col. Shaw dies in battle.  He was stripped and buried with his men.   When his parents went to retrieve the body after the war, they were told he was buried with the Negros in an mass grave.   Told of this, they then said,     

"We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers....We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. – what a body-guard he has!”

As I said, a moving and powerful story.


Hard to follow that up.   WE made our way back to the T and our hotel.   Along the way, we took many photos of the youth in doorways for some reason.    It became the Boston Door Project.

Will write about the Pops later.