Boston Building Babble: Old State House

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Today, in Boston Building Babble, I take you to the center of Boston, to the oldest public building in Boston.  The Old State House.

The Old State House celebrates its 300th anniversary this year.

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It is the oldest, but not the original.  The first building (1657) on this site was a wood framed structure that burned down.  After the fire, it was proposed to rebuild the building out of brick (1711).  This building burned down too… crazy history lesson there… yet some of the walls remained.  The building that we see today was rebuilt using brick again (1747).

Old State House in Central Boston
The iconic lion and unicorn that adorn the building were added at this time as well.  They symbolized the British Monarchy.

Old State House

At the onset of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony to Bostonians. At this point, in a Boston style riot-rage, the lion and unicorn were dismantled from the exterior, and burned in a public bonfire.

Old State House

After the American Revolution, the building became a commercial space covered in billboards occupied by tailors, clothing merchants, and insurance brokers. The building fell into a state of disrepair before becoming a historic landmark.  In 1881, in response to plans for demolishing the building due to insane real estate potential, The Bostonian Society was formed to preserve the Old State House.

Old State House

The Bostonian Society replaced the Lion and Unicorn statues on the building, and restored the building to its former glory.

Old-State_House_Boston Wedding0008

Since the early 1900s, the Old State House has been a T-stop. I have always found that as a T stop, it is kinda weird/surprising… but at least the building is in constant use. The building also has a museum (I will admit… I have never been…gasp…), and can be rented for private events (awesome wedding venue).

Old State House Boston Spiral Staircase - JoeyBLS Photography

The photo above is gorgeous.  I can’t believe I have never set foot inside the museum!

Old State House, Boston

The building is nestled in the middle of skyscrapers like a tiny gem.  I love approaching this building within the city.  The modern glass structures provide a beautiful backdrop for this little historic structure.

Old State House viewed along State Street, Boston.

I also love how Boston is laid out with all of its zig-zaggy one way streets (ok I don’t love it when sitting in traffic… or when I am late… or when I am trying to find parking…), because this tangle of infrastructure reminds us how the city was built and preserved.  The city just evolved and grew around itself… the site of the Old State House is a perfect example of this.

old state house

I plan on visiting the Old State House galleries… so should you:
October – April: 9 to 5
May – September: 9 to 6
Boston Building Babble gives you weekly insight on buildings around Beantown.
Any suggestions for next week, feel free to contact me!