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#onthisday in 1804: The 'Snow Hurricane' blows off the steeple of Old North Church

October 9, 2019

On this day in 1804, the "Snow Hurricane" — also known as "the Great Gale of 1804" — made landfall in Boston, blowing off the steeple of Old North Church.

The storm brought heavy snow and strong winds to the City. During the height of the storm, several buildings, including King’s Chapel, lost their roofs. The most notable damage, however, was the loss of Old North Church’s steeple. 

The steeple was too damaged to be repaired. Instead, Charles Bullfinch designed a replacement steeple that was completed in 1806.

Bullfinch’s replacement steeple also fell victim to high winds. In 1954, Hurricane Carol blew the steeple directly into the middle of Hull Street.  The current steeple, pictured here in 1975, was designed using elements from the church’s original steeple and the 1806 Bullfinch Steeple.

Old North Church Steeple, 1975, Peter H. Dreyer slide collection, Collection 9800.007, Boston City Archives.

To learn more about the steeple, check out the "A Tale of Three Steeples" blog post from the Old North Church.