Every town in New England, it seems, claims to have a bell cast by Paul Revere in its belfry, if not a genuine piece of Revere silver in its historical museum. The patriot who made the famous midnight ride to warn the suburbs of the British march, however, was virtually unknown until before the Civil War, when Massachusetts poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made him the subject of a poem to stir up passion for the Union cause.
Contrary to the poem (and many simplified history books), however, Revere never made it to Concord  to warn the minutemen of the British approach; he was arrested by the British after warning John Hancock and Sam Adams in Lexington . Nor did he shout “The British Are Coming!” from his horse—probably a whisper of “The regulars are out tonight” was more like it. And he wasn’t the only rider out that night. At least two other riders, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, were also out warning the colonists.
Whatever the details of Revere’s famous night, however, he was by any measure a veritable Leonardo da Vinci of the colonial world, who won acclaim as a silversmith, coppersmith, bell ringer, dentist, and father of 16 children. Many of them were raised in the house that still bears his name. The Paul Revere House (19 North Square, 617/523-2338, www.paulreverehouse.org , 9:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m. daily Nov.–mid-Apr., closed Mon. Jan.–Mar.; 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. daily mid-Apr.–Oct., $3.50 adults, $3 seniors and students, $1 children 5–17, free children under 5) is a typical example of 17th-century architecture and the oldest house still standing in Boston .
If you are looking for an exhibit of Revere silver, you are better off going to the Museum of Fine Arts ; the house has only a small collection of artifacts relating to the patriot, contained in a few poorly labeled cabinets (though a case full of Revere-inspired tchochkes, including a whisky bottle in the shape of the patriot on his horse, is amusing).
The Paul Revere House is more interesting as a window into the living quarters and implements of a typical family in colonial urban America. Interpretive guides are on hand to lead guests up creaking narrow staircases into the surprisingly snug quarters where Revere and his wife slept and entertained guests. On Saturday afternoons, artisans demonstrate such arts as silversmithing and gilding in the outdoor courtyards.