At the heart of Revolutionary Boston, the Old State House, on the Freedom Trail, was at the center of ideas and events that sparked the American Revolution. Enduring ideas about the proper role of government were explored and debated by Boston's leading patriots. In the years before the Revolution, freely elected representatives from all over the Massachusetts Colony met at the Old State House and debated British rule and taxation. Led by Samuel Adams, the representatives frequently clashed with the Royal Governor, whose Council Chamber was also on the second floor of the Old State House, as were the judicial courts.
Nearly 300 years old, the Old State House is the oldest and one of the most beautiful and important public buildings still standing from the original 13 colonies. Located at the crossroads of two of the city's main streets, the Old State House was the center of revolutionary Boston's civic and commercial life. On the town square outside its doors, the Boston Massacre unfolded in 1770, resulting in the deaths of five men, and galvanizing public opposition to British authority. Its distinctive cupola was once the tallest point in town, and atop its facade are the lion and a unicorn, symbols of royal authority, which were torn down and burned after the Declaration of Independence was read from the building's balcony in July 1776. It was here, John Adams declared that the child Independence was born. Today, the Old State House engages visitors with a historic experience of Revolutionary Boston through guided tours, interactive activities, and exhibits.
The Old State House is today maintained as an historic site and museum by the Bostonian Society.
LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PURSUIT On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time to the public in Massachusetts from the balcony of the Old State House. Abigail Adams was there, and wrote to her husband John... great attention was given to Colonel Kraft’s every word. As soon as he ended..., three cheers rended the air..... Thus ends royal authority in this state, and all the people shall say Amen.
SIGNATURE ITEMS Included in the Bostonian Society’s collection displayed in the Old State House is the red velvet suit that John Hancock is believed to have worn when he was sworn in as the governor of Massachusetts. Other items include a vial of tea saved from the Boston Tea Party, a lantern hung to signal meetings of the Sons of Liberty, silver works by Paul Revere, a musket used at the Battle of Lexington, and a drum from the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tour
Walk Into History Tour & joint Old State House admission ticket
Historic Holiday Stroll
African-American Patriots Tour
Old State House/Bostonian Society — Boston National Historical Park
206 Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Open: April 15 - Oct. 31 9:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.; Nov. - April 14 9:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Closed: Mondays during Jan - March, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day