It’s hard to imagine something historic as the Old Belfry could be hidden right in Lexington Center, but it’s true. Thousands each week walk, bike and drive past the unassuming wooden sign on Massachusetts Avenue that announces the Old Belfry is located just up the hill.
While the belfry, a rebuilt version of the one that contained the bell that rang out on April 19, 1775, is largely overlooked by locals, it is fairly popular among tourists – especially European visitors who come equipped with backpacks, sturdy sneakers and plans to hike to Concord, said Mary Jo Bohart, director of Lexington’s .
One of the reasons for that dichotomy could be the belfry’s location. In order to see it, one must leave the town’s main drag and wander past a few wooden benches, following a path that soon turns rocky and slightly steep as it climbs Belfry Hill.
But once there, the reward is a view of Lexington unlike any other and the chance to experience a piece of history that’s talked about but not often seen.
The belfry was erected on the hill where it sits now in 1761 and removed to the common in 1768, according to a placard on the belfry.
“In it was hung the bell which rung out the alarm on the 19th of April 1775. In 1797 it was removed to the Parker homestead in the south part of town,” the sign says. “In 1891 it was brought back to the hill by the .”
A gale destroyed the Old Belfry in 1909, but it was rebuilt in 1910.