Massachusetts State House. Legislative Building in Boston, United States

Massachusetts State House

Legislative Building in Boston, United States

Massachusetts State House Photo © Frank Reese

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Massachusetts State House

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Massachusetts State House -
	Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House - Massachusetts State House. Photo by Frank Reese
The Massachusetts State House is the seat of the house of government of the state of Massachusetts. This building – the state capitol – is also known as the New State House and is located on Beacon Hill across from the Boston Common in Boston. Built with red bricks, white pillars, and with a splendid golden dome, it is often regarded as one of the most magnificent public buildings in the United States.

The inside of the building is made up of marble-floored corridors that are lined with portraits of former Massachusetts governors. Murals depict the long and rich history of the state. Paintings and sculptures of the state’s historic heroes – Adams, Revere, Winthrop, and Hancock – can be seen all around the state house. Beautiful architectural details and historic artifacts, such as the Sacred Cod (Wikipedia Article) and Holy Mackerel, symbolizing the importance of the fishing industry to the state, add to its splendor.

Besides an excellent museum, the Massachusetts State House is, of course, first and foremost a government building. The Senate and House of Representatives gather in the beautifully decorated chambers.

Massachusetts State House - Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House - Massachusetts State House. Photo by Sean_Marshall


Before the opening of the New Massachusetts State House in 1798, the government house of the state was the Old State House on Court Street.

The land where the state house now stands was once owned by John Hancock, the first elected governor of Massachusetts. He used it as a cow pasture. The first cornerstone of the building was laid by two heroes of the Revolutionary War, Massachusetts State Governor Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, on July 4 – Independence Day – 1795. They regarded this new stunning building on top of Beacon Hill as a temple of democracy.

The State House was designed by Massachusetts native Charles Bulfinch. He designed it after he returned from a trip around Europe, which inspired him tremendously. While traveling around Europe, Bulfinch was blown away by the work of the late-Renaissance Italian architect, Andrea Palladio (Wikipedia
	Article). The Neo-Classical style that was popular in Europe at the time had a big influence on him as well. These two architectural styles can be seen in many elements in the Massachusetts State House: Doric columns, Palladian windows and doors, and perfect symmetry.

In the course of the years, the state house has expanded greatly – the largest expansion took place in 1895 – but the original Bulfinch Front is still visible. It is the oldest building on Beacon Hill. Bulfinch was only in his twenties when he designed the Massachusetts State House. He went on to become one of America’s most famous architects. Other buildings of his are the Maine State House, an expansion of Faneuil Hall; University Hall in Harvard, and, his most famous work, the United States Capitol, better known as the White House, in Washington D.C.

The striking dome of the state capitol was originally made of wood. When it started leaking in 1802, it was covered with copper by Paul Revere’s company. Revere, by the way, was the first American who managed to roll copper into sheets in a way that made him a profit. The dome was then painted gray and, a while later, bright yellow, before getting covered in 23-karat gold leaf in 1874. The dome was painted dark gray or black again during the Second World War to prevent light reflection during blackouts. This was done to protect the building and city as a whole from air attacks. The dome was gilded again in 1997.

Boston Common
Boston Common
The Massachusetts State House now plays a central role in the life of Bostonians. It is visible from most places in the city, but is at its most striking when seen from the Boston Common. It is a reference for mapmakers as well: the distances to Boston that can be seen on highway and interstate signs are in fact the distances to the golden dome of the state house.

Visiting the Massachusetts State House

The State House lies on Boston’s magnificent Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking tour that leads past sixteen historic sites in the city. People who enjoy architecture, art, and history should definitely take the time to step inside. Free guided tours are available every weekday, excluding public holidays. They run from 10.00 AM to 3.30 PM. Visitors can also explore the inside of the building on their own if they want to. Highlights are the Doric Room, the Hall of Flags, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the Sacred Cod and Holy Mackerel.

Similar Landmarks

There are 49 other state houses in the United States. Among the most beautiful are the Connecticut State House, the New York State House; the Texas State Capitol, the California State House; and the Colorado State House. But the one that tops them all is, unsurprisingly, the White House in Washington D.C. or the United States Capitol.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 05, 2015

Pictures of Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House - Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House - Photo by Jennifer Boyer


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