Monday, March 03, 2008

One Light-Emitting Diode If By Land, and Two If By Sea

Somehow this post title doesn’t have the same stirring ring to it as “one if by land, and two if by sea”, but the Old North Church in Boston is changing with the times. This article greeted me this morning as I was preparing to start my day.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are energy-efficient lights and are being used to illuminate the vaults inside the church which dates back to 1723. The church steeple was used to display two lanterns as a signal about British troop movements on April 18, 1775, and is aptly described in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous--- if not somewhat inaccurate poem--- which included the line: “One if by land, and two if by sea.”

So, what’s so important about April 18, 1775? On that evening church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns to signal Paul Revere, William Dawes, and the other midnight riders that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land.

What followed is commonly referred to as the 'shot heard round the world'.

While the installation has been done with historic sensitivity, and while it is as one visitor remarked no different than updating a building with air conditioning or running water it is a little sad that eventually the steeple’s compact fluorescents will be replaced with LEDs.

It might be a little interesting, however, to tie in the concept of historic preservation with the march of time and technology when studying Lexington and Concord.

My links to Paul Revere and the ‘shot heard round the word’ are from the site
Archiving Early America which has a few slideshows that could be useful to introduce a topic, review a topic, or for small group and individual use.


M-Dawg said...

If you (other readers) ever get up to the Boston area, check out Old North Church. It's so beautiful.

And, the third Monday in April here in MA is Patriot's Day (also the Boston Marathon is on the same day too). If you go to Lexington at around 5:45 AM, there's the historical renactment of Paul Revere riding on horseback yelling the "British are Coming" and a few moments later the Redcoats come marching down Rt. 2A (the main street in Lexington) and they have a battle on Lexington Green with the Minutemen. People actually bring ladders to see the battle because there are so many people that show up. If you get there early, you can normally get a good view. After the battle, the Red Coats continue to Concord for the Battle at North Bridge and "the shot heard around the world."

The Tour Marm said...

I'm sure there was a brouhaha concerning the flourescents over incandescent, and perhaps electric over gas, and finally gas over candlelight!

I remember all the problems with fitting Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA with air conditioning as well as paving over the historic churchyard to make way for a larger parish house to minister to the community.

What about the addition of electric exit signs and sprinkler systems?

These churches (and other buildings) were built in the contemporary style of the day by very forward-thinking, 'modern' individuals. I can only imagine that if Gen. Washington were alive today, he would have raised money for any state-of-the-art improvements for the comfort of the parishioners and continued life of the structure.