Saturday, July 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tours will follow social distancing guidelines

PHILADELPHIA, July 1, 2020 – Instead of the usual parades and noisy fireworks celebrations, Old Pine Conservancy is offering area residents a quiet way to mark July 4th this year – while socially distancing.

The conservancy will host free tours of the historic Colonial churchyard at Old Pine Presbyterian Church, 412 Pine Street, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4.

285 flags wave in the breeze

Old Pine’s churchyard in Society Hill first began accepting burials in 1764, four years before the church opened. Visitors today see the graves of 285 veterans of the American Revolution dotted with crisp, colorful new flags installed each Memorial Day. The sight of these 13-star flags fluttering together in the churchyard often stirs powerful feelings of patriotism and gratitude in Old Pine visitors.

In the eight years of the Revolutionary War, 590 men from Old Pine served their country, a huge number from one small church.

Besides the war veterans at Old Pine, its 3,000 to 4,000 residents include ship captains and privateers, politicians, printers, merchants, artisans, ministers and other Philadelphians who helped created a new nation in 1776. 

Look for these unique sights at Old Pine Churchyard:

  • Numerous white tiny interpretive signs highlighting many of the people buried here. The signs also provide facts and figures about the churchyard
  • A tree sculpture of fiery pastor George Duffield, called “my parish priest” by John Adams. Reverend Duffield, who reportedly had a 50-pound price placed on his head by British King George III, shocked his congregation 11 days after the Battle of Lexington and Concord when he announced:  “There are too many able-bodied men here today. Tomorrow I shall join the cause.” Some 91 men from Old Pine followed his lead. Roger Wing is the sculptor.
  • A memorial to the only knight in the churchyard, Eugene Ormandy, renowned conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 44 years. His wife Margaret (affectionately known as Gretel), also buried here, wanted to celebrate the date of their wedding anniversary. So by written agreement with Old Pine Street Church, a dozen roses are placed on the gravestone every May 15th.

Due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, tours are restricted as follows:

Tours are limited to ten people per group. Old Pine Conservancy can accommodate more than ten people at a time with enough advance notice to provide more than one tour guide. All tours are outside; no tours of the church sanctuary are available during the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone must wear a mask and maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

Tours for the rest of the summer will be Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

All tours are free. For anyone wishing to make a donation, contributions to Old Pine Conservancy can be made easily by credit card with the Conservancy’s handy electronic DipJar.