Woman named sexton of historic Boston church for 1st time

A woman has been named sexton of Boston's historic Old North Church for the first time in its nearly 300-year history

Via AP news wire
Friday 13 May 2022 15:17
Old North Church Femail
Old North Church Femail

The thousands of tourists who visit Boston's Old North Church probably won't see much of Chelsea Millsap on their trip, even though she may just have the most important job at the historic site.

Millsap, 32, who can trace her ancestry to the Pilgrims, is the first woman named sexton in the church's nearly 300-year history. It's a job that involves caring for and maintaining the parish buildings and equipment, including an 18th-century clock, the 75-piece chandeliers and the crypt where more than 1,100 people have been laid to rest.

One of her first tasks will be managing a major renovation and restoration of the crypt.

The church, still home to an active Episcopal congregation, is famous as the place where in 1775, two lanterns in the steeple signaled that British soldiers were heading to Concord and Lexington, sending Paul Revere on the ride that sparked the American Revolution. The event was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1860 poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

One of the people who hung the lanterns was Robert Newman, the sexton at that time.

“What an incredible opportunity to be able to sit in the very same pew as Robert Newman and in a world that is so divided to work in a place that welcomes all people from Bostonians to world dignitaries, like the Queen,” Millsap, a Detroit native and former firefighter with experience in fire prevention, security technology and project management, said in a statement.

“I could have been the one to hang the lanterns 247 years ago. It is such an honor to show women that they too can hold these sorts of jobs."

One of Millsap's jobs is to climb the steeple stairs to light the lanterns during commemorations of the event.

Millsap is a descendant of teenage Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton, who is buried at nearby King’s Chapel in Boston.

“The sexton is an incredibly important role at Old North, serving both the church and historic site and connecting a nearly 300-year lineage of caretakers,” Nikki Stewart, executive director of the Old North Foundation said. “Chelsea’s passion for public history and historic preservation will ensure that Old North Church carries on for generations to come.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in