My European readers will likely snicker at my use of the word ‘ancient’ when talking about something from the early 1700’s. Still, that’s about as old as it gets in this country, unless you’re talking about some Native American artifacts. According to the Bostonian Society:
“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 was destroyed by fire in 1711. As the center of civic, political, and business life, 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 John Hancock and others rented warehouse space in the basement. The National Historic Sites Commission has called the Old State House one of the most important public buildings in Colonial America.”
I walked past The Old State House on my way to a meeting last September. It was a gray day, but I vowed to walk back, if the rain in the forecast didn’t arrive on time. When I left the meeting, the skies were still gray, but it was dry, and I was off in search of doors.
As they were building The Old State House, there was already a thriving community up north in what later became Montreal, Canada. It’s not widely known, but about this same time, the former fur trader, Jacques Frampton was turning his interest to trading doors. As buildings were beginning to be built, doors were in high demand and Jacques was getting too old to be tromping around the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Today, Jacques great, great, great, etc., etc. grandson Norm operates a virtual door museum in the same area of Canada. You can visit Norm’s museum and you can add your doors. Just check in with the little blue frog – he’ll take care of everything.
So much has been written about the history of The Old State House, that I can’t see myself paraphrasing it here – I think I heard a huge sigh of relief from the Editor – but I urge you to visit the Bostonian Society website, The Freedom Trail website and even Wikipedia to read more of the interesting story of The Old State House. I do want to share my thoughts on one aspect of that history – I think I just heard another sigh.
This building, which served as the seat of Royal Government in the Colony, The Massachusetts Assembly, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the oldest court in the nation), the first seat of Massachusetts state government and Boston’s first City Hall – was almost destroyed! Not by war, not by fire, not by rot and the ravages of time, but due to its real estate potential. From Wikipedia:
“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.”
As a recent visitor, I am extremely happy that enough people came forward over 130 years ago with the foresight, vision and a plan to save, restore and forever preserve this most valuable American asset. The real estate potential of this location would be monumental, today. With Boston on the short list for Amazon’s second city, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Bezos didn’t make a run for it. Fortunately, the building’s future seems secure.
The gallery includes some photos of The Old State House and Faneuil Hall, also located in this section of Boston. You can click on any image to begin a slide show. Thanks for visiting!