March 25, 2019
Old North Church to Impose Mandatory Admission Fees

March 8, 2018 — In what could reflect a trend of diminishing funding for nonprofits from traditional sources, The Old North Church & Historic Site, a Boston nonprofit dedicated to preserving Old North Church, will begin imposing a mandatory admission fee for the first time in its nearly 300-year history.

Starting May 1, The Old North Church & Historic Site will charge $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and $4 for children, The Boston Globe reported last week.

Currently, Old North Church suggests that visitors make a $3 donation, but, according to the report, on average receives $1 per visitor.

The Rev. Stephen Ayres, vicar of the Episcopal congregation in the North End and executive director of the Old North Foundation of Boston, which operates the site, was quoted, “We’d love to be able to offer our programs for free. But our delayed maintenance issues are just going to grow, and we need to be able to pay our staff something that resembles more than a minimum wage.”

He said the site requires about $500,000 annually for repairs.

According to the report, the Old North Foundation has asked the National Park Service for $3.5 million to fund restoration, but nothing has not been forthcoming yet.

In 2016, Old North Church received 605,000 visitors, making it the fourth most visited nonprofit museum in Massachusetts, according to the Boston Business Journal. The year before, 578,000 people walked through the site.

Old North Church reported nearly $1.1 million in revenue, of which $597,000 came from contributions and grants, for the year ending Dec. 31, 2015, according to its most recently available federal tax filing. For the same period it had $984,000 in expenses.

Old North Church, one of 16 stops on Boston's Freedom Trail, now joins several others that charge fees: Old South Meeting House ($6 for adults), Old State House ($10), and the Paul Revere House ($5 for adults). Other sites, including Faneuil Hall, the Bunker Hill Monument, the Bunker Hill Museum, the USS Constitution, and the Dorchester Heights Monument are free.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which for decades had a suggested donation policy, recently instituted a $25 admission charge for adults from outside New York state, good for three consecutive days.

Earlier this year, the National Council of Nonprofits said nonprofits would face greater resource constraints in 2018.

The recently enacted federal tax reform, which changes rules on standard deductions, could dramatically impact charitable giving.

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