Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old State House

This door leads into the building known today as the Old State House in Boston, Massachusetts.  This Georgian style structure was built in 1713 to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  To commemorate the Old State House's 300th birthday The Bostonian Society is hosting a week long celebration with many events and activities, including several that pertain to historic preservation. 

Today this small building sits proudly in the middle of modern high-rise buildings with cars circling around it and a subway rumbling underneath!  In the 1700's this was the center of  Boston's civic life.  Within its walls the tyranny of the crown was proclaimed and the desire for freedom came to life.  The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts was done from this balcony; two hundred years later Queen Elizabeth would stand on this balcony and wave to the crowds below during a visit to the United States!

On March 5, 1770 five colonists were killed outside the Old State House by British Regulars in what became known as the Boston Massacre.  The British soldiers had been sent to Boston in October 1768 for the purpose of enforcing the heavy taxes demanded of the colonies and to ensure loyalty to the King.

The building would serve as the Massachusetts Commonwealth State House until the new State House was completed in 1798.   In the following years it would be used for a variety of purposes and would be altered to accommodate the needs of the various tenants.  From 1830 to 1841 the building was used as Boston City's Hall.  By 1879 the building was falling into a terrible state of disrepair and demolition was looming.  A group of concerned citizens formed the Bostonian Society and in 1881 turned the building into the Old State House Museum.  This group still maintains the building today while the building is owned by the City of Boston.

There have been numerous restoration projects as this old building requires constant upkeep and stabilization.  Old State House History details the building's history and has a timeline of events. The subway was tunneled under the building in 1905; the building rumbles with the passing of each train.

The Museum has many artifacts and exhibits detailing events of the American Revolution.  Although Samuel Adams or John Hancock never walked on the modern floors or gazed on the restored walls, there is a sense of history in the rooms and the presence of those Patriots seems to linger.  I felt a renewed sense of appreciation for those men and their commitment to the cause of independence.

To commemorate its 300th anniversary, the Bostonian Society invites everyone to join in a week of events and activities for all ages.
“Whether you’re a longtime Bostonian or a first-time visitor to the city, the symbolism of this building speaks to the steadfast human spirit in all of us,” says Bostonian Society President Brian W. J. LeMay. “After the recent events in Boston, we hope participating in this milestone anniversary provides everyone some level of restored peace and resilience.”

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