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Boston’s Old North Church to charge admission starting in May

One if by land, two if by sea, $8 for adults

An 18th-century church’s steeple prominent against an aerial shot of a cityscape. Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Old North Church—the North End house of worship that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized with a little help from Paul Revere and his friends—plans to start charging admission for the first time ever on May 1.

Adults will have to pay $8, older adults and students $6, and children $4. The church currently asks for a $3 suggested donation per visitor.

Why the charge? Because a building whose bones date from 1723 and that accommodates about 500,000 visitors annually needs some serious and regular upkeep. (And a request to the National Park Service for more funding hasn’t gone anywhere.)

“The church every day is falling into disrepair,” the vicar of the Episcopal congregation there told the Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie. “That’s the second law of thermodynamics. We’re cutting corners, and we know at some point it’s going to catch up to us.”

Old North Church is not the first Revolutionary War-era site in Boston to charge admission. As MacQuarrie notes, the Old State House requires $10 for general admission, the Old South Meeting House $6, and Paul Revere’s old place $5.

Whether the admission fee crimps Old North’s visitors count of course remains to be seen. The foundation hopes not because big to-dos are on the horizon: The church’s 300th birthday is coming up in five years—and the 250th anniversary of Paul Revere’s “one if by land, two if by sea” ride is two years after that. Stay tuned.