Old North Illuminated is a secular, independent nonprofit that educates and inspires diverse audiences through its work interpreting and preserving Boston’s Old North Church, an iconic landmark of the American Revolution.
Established in 1991 as the Old North Foundation, Old North Illuminated shines an analytical light on the past in an effort to build a brighter future. Just as two patriots hung lanterns in our steeple on the night of April 18, 1775, as a signal to spark action, we seek to ignite active citizenship by engaging visitors and classrooms in the rich history of the Old North Church.
Old North’s 300-year history illuminates shifts and arcs in American society that reveal an essential ingredient in the work of building a more perfect union: courageous and compassionate leadership. Learn more in our most recent Annual Report.
The work of Old North Illuminated falls into four interwoven program areas:
Hundreds of thousands of visitors seek out Old North Church annually as a tangible symbol of freedom and revolution. We believe that by presenting, questioning, and learning from the full and complicated span of Old North’s 300-year history, we can engage audiences in contemporary questions of equity and representation, courage for the common good, and what it means to be an active citizen.
A selection from our new interpretive plan is available online. This document is copyrighted and proprietary. The full plan is available to museum professionals upon request.
Education is at the heart of what we do. We believe our relevance today requires a critical lens and honest dialogue about the nation’s founding ideals and the ongoing struggle to realize those ideals. We support educators by developing curricula that take a fresh look at the past and encourage learners to identify themselves as active citizens who are gaining the wisdom, confidence, and motivation to participate in their communities.
In a world that can feel increasingly virtual, being able to sit in our 300-year-old pews or see the steeple where the famous signal lanterns hung is to make a powerful connection to the past. But historic buildings don’t survive on their own. We work in collaboration with the National Park Service, the congregation of Old North Church, and other partners to preserve and protect this iconic landmark and its campus.
By expanding the lens of history, we can tell a more honest story of the United States and connect with wider audiences. Who benefited from the Revolution and who was left out? How was Old North Church connected to slavery? When we are committed to fully exploring the past, we embrace challenging questions that help us understand our nation’s enduring efforts to achieve its founding ideals.