Massachusetts State Capitol

Completed: 1798
Architect: Charles Bulfinch

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In 1713 the seat of the Massachusetts government was the old State House, now used as a museum. After the American Revolution, state leaders wanted a larger and more elegant home to better reflect the prosperous new republic, spacious enough to accommodate an expanding government. They selected a superb site for the new State House close to the summit of the south side of Beacon Hill, overlooking Boston Common and the Back Bay. The land had originally served as a cow pasture for the Revolutionary patriot and governor John Hancock. A young native-born architect, Charles Bulfinch, was chosen to design the building. He later contributed to the plans of the Capitol in Washington. The Bulfinch State House was completed on January 11, 1798 and was widely acclaimed as one of the more magnificent and well-situated buildings in the country. Its dome dominated the Boston skyline until the advent of the skyscraper.

ADMITTED TO THE UNION: 1788, the sixth of the original 13 colonies.

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named after local Indian tribe whose name means "a large hill place".


STATE MOTTO: Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty).

1780 PREAMBLE: We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction.

ADDRESS:  24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133


 Old Capitol Building

Completed: 1713
Architect: Robert Twelves

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Built in 1713, the Old State House was the seat of the Massachusetts legislature until 1798. One of the landmarks on Boston's Freedom Trail, it is the oldest surviving public building in Boston, and acts as a history museum operated by the Bostonian Society. 

From 1830 to 1841, the building was Boston's city hall. After Boston's city hall left, the whole building was rented out for commercial use. This had also been the case in the interim between the State House period and the City Hall period.  Occupants included tailors, clothing merchants, insurance agents, railroad line offices, and more. As many as fifty businesses used the building at once.

In 1881, in response to plans for the possible demolition of the building due to real estate potential, The Bostonian Society was formed to preserve and steward the Old State House. In 1881-1882, restorations were conducted by George A. Clough.  In 1882, replicas of the lion and unicorn statues were placed atop the East side of the building, after the originals that had been burned in 1776.  On the West side, the building sports a statue of an eagle, in recognition of the Old State House's connection to American history.

ADDRESS:  206 Washington St, Boston, MA 02109