By Seth Daniel
One of the most famous stories in American History – that of Paul Revere’s covert trip across the Charles River from the North End to Charlestown – has its genesis right in Charlestown’s Navy Yard, and though the site of Paul Revere’s exact landing site is well marked and yards from the busy Freedom Trail – only a scant few actually see it.
A nice marker and a historical interpretive sign are posted along the waterfront behind the vacant New England Distribution Warehouse building, and though the Freedom Trail hosts thousands and thousands of visitors every year, only a few of those visitors actually know enough to take in the spot where Revere landed with his two rowers, believed to be Joshua Bentley and Thomas Richardson, before heading up to the Town to secure his horse.
Local historian Rosemary Kverek hopes to change all of that.
This week, in advance of the 242nd anniversary of the historic act of rebellion, Kverek said she is mounting an effort to get the site more available to tourists, history buffs and locals too.
“It no doubt should have a more prominent market,” she said. “I have talked with the Freedom Trail Foundation and they said they will look at it and they might put something up. This is very important history and very few go back there, and even fewer know this site exists.”
That cause is still in flux as the big day approached, Patriots Day, on Monday, April 18, but the story behind the marker is a good one as well.
Long-time Charlestown resident Carl Zellner, now deceased, was a great historian in Boston and Charlestown.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Zellner was disturbed when the Paul Revere Landing Park was constructed on the far side of City Square next to the Expressway.
He believed that it misled people about where Paul Revere really landed, Kverek said.
Through painstaking research, he drew upon first-hand accounts, Census records and other materials to locate the Charlestown Armory location in the Navy Yard at that time. That is where accounts indicate that Revere landed with the two men, after quietly rowing past a British warship in the River that was only about 100 yards away from them.
In time, he was able to get the appropriate marker put up in the location behind the vacant warehouse.
“He told me, ‘I have a problem,’” recalled Kverek. “He said the Paul Revere Landing had to go. He had to set the record straight.”
And that he did.
And now Kverek hopes she can let more know about the great treasure Zellner uncovered for posterity. Anyone wishing to see the location can go to the Navy Yard, take a right at the Bright Horizons playground and then a quick left at the MGH building. The marker is directly behind the warehouse on the left side. There is also a very informative marker in the same location teaching about the Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusetts and its connection to the Charlestown’s agricultural port of the 1800s.