November 25, 2014 •
U.S. Statehouse Series – Massachusetts, The Bay State
Today we welcome you back to the statehouse series. This time we visit Massachusetts!
The “new” Massachusetts statehouse was built in 1798 on top of Beacon Hill. Charles Bullfinch, the architect, was influenced by London architecture. Many buildings in London, such as the Dulwich Gallery and the British Museum, have the same Neoclassical style as the Massachusetts statehouse. The site of the current statehouse was owned by Massachusetts’ first governor, John Hancock.
Like the Vermont statehouse, the Massachusetts statehouse dome is covered in gold leaf, but is topped with a pinecone, reflecting the significance of lumber in the Massachusetts economy. The dome was originally made of wooden shingles, but Paul Revere covered it in copper in 1802, and it was first gilded in 1874. During World War II, it was painted black to eliminate reflections and divert bombers away from the city. The dome remained black until 1997, when it was recovered in gold leaf at the cost of $300,000.
One of the most notable attractions of the Massachusetts statehouse is the Sacred Cod. The wooden codfish hangs above the chamber of the House of Representatives to signify the importance of fishing in the state. The grounds also display many statues of famous Massachusetts residents, such as John F. Kennedy and Daniel Webster. Created in 1990, the statue of John F. Kennedy stands as the newest figure on the grounds.
Since the 1880s, Massachusetts governors have carried on a tradition called the “Long Walk.” The outgoing governor walks out of the statehouse alone while the incoming governor walks up the walkway to the front entrance at the same time. Massachusetts residents line the sidewalks in support of the governors, waving banners and cheering the whole time. What a way to celebrate the importance of a statehouse!
You can plan your own walking tour of Beacon Hill and see the architectural works of Charles Bullfinch at Bostonbyfoot.org.
Photo of the Massachusetts Statehouse courtesy of Fcb981 on Wikimedia Commons.
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