Massachusetts State House (1798)


The Massachusetts State Capitol building in Boston, designed by Charles Bulfinch, was completed in 1798. The government of Massachusetts had previously used the Old State House, so the current building is sometimes called the New State House. It was built on Beacon Hill, on land once owned by John Hancock. The site on Beacon Hill was lowered 50 feet for the construction, with the excavated dirt being used as landfill. Bulfinch modeled his design on William Chambers‘s Somerset House and James Wyatt‘s Pantheon, both in London. The capitol building‘s dome was originally made of wood, which soon leaked. In 1802, it was covered with copper by Paul Revere’s company. Originally painted gray, to resemble stone, it was later painted yellow and, in 1874, gilded with gold. It was most recently regilded in 1997. The building was expanded with the addition of a yellow brick annex in 1895 and the two massive marble wings, on each side, in 1914 and 1917. The State House underwent a restoration in 2000. Today, this important structure, which Oliver Wendell Holmes once called, “the hub of the solar system,” is open to the public for tours.

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