The Old North Church is delighted to house multiple gardens on its campus as spaces for reflection, contemplation, and prayer.
18th Century Garden
St. Francis of Assisi Garden
Washington Memorial Garden
The Third Lantern Garden
The Memorial Garden
Bird bath = water of life.
Plant material = red flowers and foliage represent the sacrifices and bloodshed of war, the single white flower represents hope for peace.
Stones = a loose take on the tradition of leaving stones in Jewish grave sites symbolizing prayers for the dead. At the base of the bird bath, stones are marked with number of deaths during given years, of Massachusetts natives, during the 9/11 attacks and a somewhat recent running total. An additional rock garden outside of the Memorial Garden honors war deaths of all of America’s wars. A large “peace” stone is placed front and center under the bird bath.
A committee of church members and neighbors conceived a design of blank dog-tags (representing the number of fallen Americans) hung on chains strung between fenceposts. The posts would form a semi-circle with a small garden within the circle, and a walkway and meditation bench along the perimeter.
Ground was broken mid-May of 2007 with the setting of the fence posts and walk way. During the weekend prior to Memorial Day, a table was set up and about 3,500 dog-tags were strung with the assistance of visitors recruited as they walked through the courtyard. On Memorial Day, the Old North Memorial Garden was dedicated. During the reading of native Massachusetts deaths there was a light breeze and the wind chime effect came alive for the first time.
Today, whenever an American falls during the Afghanistan or Iraq/ISIS conflicts, a dog-tag is hung by an Old North Gardener. The tags represent, as close as possible, the total number of deaths (6,884 as of July 4th, 2016).
Please feel free to touch the dog-tags respectfully, walk behind the memorial on the pathway, and take a moment to reflect and pray on the bench provided.