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Massachusetts State House

Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the Massachusetts State House was completed on January 11, 1798, and is widely acclaimed as one of the more magnificent public buildings in the country. The land for the State House was originally used as John Hancock’s cow pasture. Its most distinct feature, the golden dome, was once made of wood, but was later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with 23-karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874 and was painted grey during World War II to protect the city from bombing attacks. The State House dome was most recently gilded in 1997. It is under the golden dome that senators, state representatives, and the governor conduct the daily business of the Commonwealth. A gilded wooden pinecone adorns the top of the golden dome, a symbol of the state's reliance on logging in the 18th century.

Today, the Massachusetts State House is one of the oldest buildings on Beacon Hill, and its grounds cover 6.7 acres of land. Tours of the Massachusetts State House are available to the public.

CODNAPPED The five foot sacred cod, a wooden carving that now hangs in the House of Representatives Chamber in the State House, had been installed in 1784 in the Old State House to signify the importance of the salt cod industry to the Commonwealth. In 1933, pranksters from Harvard "codnapped" the fish for three days.

COMMON GROUND Dedicated in 1897, the bronze Robert Gould Shaw/54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, sculpted in bas-relief by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, commemorates the first all-black volunteer regiment in the Civil War. Shaw and many of his men perished in their assault of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. William Carney, who was wounded in the assault, rescued the regiment’s battle flag and became the first black man to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tour
African-American Patriots Tour

Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02133-1030
(617) 727-3676

Tours are available Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Please call in advance for a scheduled free tour. Office of William F. Galvin, State House Tours Division hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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