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City Hall 1830 - 1841 - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
N 42° 21.553 W 071° 03.485
19T E 330513 N 4691712
Quick Description: The Old State House, the oldest surviving public building in Boston, was built in 1713 to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It stands on the site of Boston's first Town House of 1657-8, which burned in 1711.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 3/21/2012 12:33:43 AM
Waymark Code: WME1DG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member martycook
Views: 25

Long Description:

The Old State House

The Old State House, Boston's oldest public
building, was built in 1713 as the seat of
British colonial government. Here the Royal
Governor and Massachusetts Assembly
debated the Stamp Acts and the Writs of
Assistance. The Declaration of Independence
was first read to Bostonians from the east
balcony on July 18, 1776.

The building served as the State House until
1798, and was also Boston's City Hall from
1830 to 1841.

A designated Boston Landmark

The Old State House was a natural meeting place for the exchange of economic and local news. A Merchant's Exchange occupied the first floor and the basement was rented by John Hancock and others for warehouse space. As the center of political life and thought in the colonies, the Old State House has been called one of the most important public buildings in Colonial America.

Seat of Royal Government
The Council Chamber of the Royal Governor was located upstairs at the east end of the building, looking toward Long Wharf and the harbor. This room was the setting for many stirring speeches and debates by dedicated patriots against the British crown. In 1761, James Otis argued eloquently against the Writs of Assistance, the Crown's policy which issued general search warrants without charges. Otis lost the case, but his impassioned speech was one of the events which led to the American Revolution. "Otis was a flame of fire," recalled John Adams, ". . . then and there the child Independence was born."

The Massachusetts Assembly
The central area of the second floor was the meeting place of the Massachusetts Assembly, one of the most independent of the colonial legislatures. This Assembly was the first legislative body in the colonies to call for sectional unity, and the formation of a Stamp Act Congress. Although no trace remains today, a visitor's gallery was installed in Representatives Hall in 1766. The gallery permitted citizens, for the first time in the English-speaking world, to hear their elected officials debate the popular issues of the day.

Home of the Courts
The building's west end was home to the Courts of Suffolk County and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for many years. The Supreme Judicial Court is the longest seated court in the nation (over 300 years old) and was responsible for the ruling decisions in many of the early landmark trials. The Court was also involved in the drafting of the Massachusetts Constitution, upon which the United States Constitution is based.

Official proclamations were read from the Old State House balcony, on the east side of the building, looking down State (formerly King) Street. The area beneath the balcony was the site of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, when a handful of British soldiers fired into a taunting crowd, killing five men. Today a circle of paving stones marks the spot of the Massacre.

On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed from here, to the jubilant citizens of Boston. Later that day, the lion and unicorn, along with other symbols of royal authority, were taken down from the roof of the building and burned in a great bonfire in Dock Square.

After the Revolution
The Old State House continued as the seat of Massachusetts government until a new State House was built on Beacon Hill. On January 11, 1798, all government functions left the building when the governor, state legislature, and other state officials moved to the new State House. From 1830 to 1841, the building was used as Boston's City Hall.

In 1841, the building returned to commercial use. During the mid-nineteenth century, the building entered a period of decline, suffering many alterations made to accommodate its tenants.

Source: The Boston Society

Name: Old State House

206 Washington St.
Boston, MA United States

Date of Construction: 1713

Web Site for City/Town/Municipality: [Web Link]

Architect: Not listed

Memorials/Commemorations/Dedications: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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