Although somewhat obscured by the ponderous University across the Common, Christ Church has fought long and well for a place in Cambridge's traditions. Since 1759 the small, simple wooden structure has been collecting tales of great names and Continental troops that would turn Massachusetts Hall green with ivy. Its history is inextricably tied to that of New England as well as to that of Harvard; and today, with Radcliffe College on one side and the grave of Henry Dunster on the other, it is as strong a Harvard tradition as Leavitt and Peirce.
Symbolic of the Church's College ties are the "Harvard Chimes" which hang in its low, square steeple. These bells were given by Richard Henry Dana, with the stipulation that Harvard melodies be played on them on Commencement morning Class Day, and Centennial celebrations. Though an ancient College song to the tune of "How Dry I Am" has not startled parishioners in recent years, "Fair Harvard" continues to ring out from the ecclesiastical tower, and on rarer occasions the more boisterous "Harvardiana" has been attempted.
The very founding of Christ Church was associated with the College. While the accomodation of the local Church of England families was the primary reason for its organization, the students of Dissenter Harvard were also considered, and the Archbishop of Canterbury was urged to send a missionary who might "give a right turn to the Youth who are educated there." He sent the Reverend East Apthorp, whose Cambridge home is now occupied by the Master of Adams House, but the Puritan masters of the College and community lost little time in driving him back to England.
The Tory parish was dispersed in the Revolution. Their building, after a raid by the local patriots, served as a barracks, except for one or two services attended by General Gates and Washington. It had grown strong again, however, before the Civil War, and was twice endowed by Harvard undergraduates.
Today Christ Church leads an active parish of students and townsfolk which has far outgrown the little gray building. Despite its career and its antiquity it shows no signs of degenerating into a mere museum.