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Massachusetts State House

Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the Masachusetts State House was completed in Boston on January 11, 1798, and widely acclaimed as one of the more magnificent and well-suited buildings in the country. The land for the State House was originally used as John Hancock’s cow pasture. The Massachusetts State House’s golden dome, its most distinct feature, once made of wood was later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with 23 karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874 and painted black during World War II to protect the city from bombing attacks. The State House dome was most recently gilded in 1997.

Today, the Massachusetts State House is one of the oldest buildings on Beacon Hill, and its grounds cover 6.7 acres of land. It is under the golden dome that senators, state representatives, and the governor conduct the daily business of the Commonwealth. Located on the Freedom Trail, various Massachusetts State House tours are available to the public.

This building is known to the people of Boston as the new State House, in order to differentiate it from the Old State House located on the corner of State and Congress streets. A gilded wooden pinecone adorns the top of the golden dome, a symbol of the state's reliance on logging in the 18th century. Although located on the Freedom Trail, in depth Massachusetts State House Tours 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. Chamber business was suspended for four days until it was recovered.

COMMON GROUND Dedicated in 1897, the bronze Robert Gould Shaw/54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, sculpted in bas-relief by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, commemorates the most notable Black troops to see combat in the Civil War. Shaw and many of his men perished in their assault of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. William Carney, who was shot several times 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
Tourism website
Open Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Please call in advance for a scheduled free tour.

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