30 July 2012

Mass State House, etc.

31 July 2012--My sister Marie, Cathy and I headed into downtown Boston yesterday, thru the Boston Common and to the Massachussetts State House for a little touring. The Common is a 48-acre park in the middle of downtown since 1634...here is a view looking back out at part of the city.

In the park: A pretty impressive statue in memory of the men who served during the Civil War.

A carousel and the Frog Pond, where lots of people take their kids to play in the water. I am pretty sure if I remember correctly that people go ice skating here in the winter.

A monument commemorating the settling of the city in 1630.

Looking up at the State House from the park, and out at the another part of downtown.

A very interesting statue in the park, directly across the street from the Capitol, again in tribute to the efforts of the Civil war. The movie with Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick called "Glory" was about this 54th Regiment. What I found most interesting is that if you blow up the part that has the writing on it, it talks about whites and blacks coming together to fight that war. After being in so many other states that have statues/plaques on their Capitol grounds that talk about the "War of Northern Aggression", this was a breath of fresh air to me!!! haha

The Capitol as you look up at it from the Commons. The golden dome was originally made of copper provided by Paul Revere in 1802, but replaced with gold leaf at a cost of less than $3000 in 1874. Refurbished in 1997, it cost $300,000!!! Most of the wood in the front of this building came from Maine, which was a part of Massachusetts until 1820.

The State House was completed in 1798 and built on land that previously belonged to John Hancock...it was his cow pasture. It is one of the oldest capitols in continuous use in the country. The dome sits directly above the Senate chambers and is the geographical center of the city, so when you see a sign anywhere in the state that says like "50 miles to Boston", that literally means to the dome!

A statue of General Hooker, a famous Civil War general. His name is prominent on the Capitol grounds, there is even the "Hooker entrance" to the building, but they didn't tell us anything about him (?). On the front of this statue though is the Massachusetts Coat of Arms. I read that the Latin motto on the ribbon means "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty".

Mary Dyer,a Quaker proponent of religious freedom, who was hanged on Boston Common in 1660.

John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first elected Governor of Massachusetts.

A portrait of Abe Lincoln here that I put for 3 little fun facts. One was that while the average height of a man during his age was only 5'8", Abe was 6'4" and self-concious about it, so he would not let himself be photographed standing up. This portrait was made only after he was killed, and his arm is placed behind him because it was more costly to paint arms and legs in those days. Some believe the saying "it costs an arm and a leg" stems from this. Finally, it is this portrait that was used as the template for Lincoln's image on the $5 bill!!!

Inside the entrance to the building...not terribly impressive really. The rooms are really small so they don't show well. The 1st wall painting of is of Paul Revere followed by one of the Boston Tea Party. I think they need to be rehabbed...very faded.

Aside from the House Chamber, this was probably the prettiest room in the whole place.

This explains the Blue Star Service Flag, and for those of you who are young, if you see a flag with a gold star that means it is for someone who has died.

Going to the 2nd floor.

The House Chamber was much more elaborate than the Senate Chamber...very pretty room. (I had a verbal altercation with the court officer in the Senate Chamber...he couldn't have been more rude so I made an official complaint against him. What a jerk he was!) VERY INTERESTING FUN FACT: We have now been to 16 states in our travels, and been to the Capitals of 11 of them...surprisingly, Massachusetts is the 1st state we have visited that has a full-time legislature...every other state so far, including Connecticut's, have part-time legislatures.

A few of the pics above the House floor.

Looking down to the 1st floor...this was a pretty area.

General Bartlett, a Yankee but a hero to both sides of the Civil War effort. He was wounded 4 different times in battle, and even had the lower part of one leg amputated. He had his men strap him to his horse to continue the fight, leading the Confederates to receive orders not to fire at him out of respect for his bravery.

From the Capitol we headed to the Old North Church, but stopped here at the King's Chapel along the way. This was the headquarters of all Anglican churches before the revolution, but became the 1st Unitarian Church in America in 1785.

The Communion table was a gift of King William and Queen Mary in 1696, and the panels behind it were made in London and installed here in that same year. They have the 10 Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed.

The pews in the church were actually purchased by the parishioners if they could afford it, and were intended to keep out the drafts. They could furnish them as they wished and even bring the family dog to services if they wanted to. The people who couldn't afford a pew sat in the upper balcony.

Continuing on, Marie and Cathy outside Boston City Hall.

As we walk along, here we are outside the Boston School Committee building where our mother used to work. Next is the Old State House, Boston's oldest public building built in 1713. The 3rd picture is of Faneuil Hall, where the founders met and what the Marquis de Lafayette called the "Cradle of American Liberty". Finally, Samuel Adams, an organizer of the Revolution and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

As we crossed over the interstate and looked back into town, we entered the part of the city that is called the North End, an overwhelmingly Italian part of the city of Boston. We were told at the state house that the architect of the building brought in people from Italy to work with the marble, and they settled here in this section, thus leading it to be strongly Italian. As for the sign, I come from South Boston, the Irish part of the city, where those that live there know one thing: there are 2 types of people in this world, the Irish and those that wish they were!!! haha That's what our mother always told us!

A statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church behind him...hard to see because of the lighting. Built in 1723, the Old North Church is Boston's oldest church building. (Based on what was said about King's Church, I at first thought that was, but I think it was just a headquarters at 1st so that mustn't count.)

Previously called Christ Church, the Old North Church was where Paul Revere had the lanterns hung from to alert everyone that the British were coming. (Remember "One of by land, two if by sea"?)

The inside was a lot like King's Church.

The story behind who actually hung the lanterns.

And what actually happened that night.

Marie and Cathy trying to look up to where the window is that the lanterns hung from. Cathy has said something "off-color", that's why they are laughing.

The church and the actual window where the lanterns were hung.

Walking through the North End, which is famous for its restaurants. Notice how small the streets are here.

The Memorial Garden in Paul Revere Park. The right pic shws all the dog tags of people who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We had a great afternoon walking around the city; Marie's leg and my neck were pretty sore by the end of it all, but it was a beautiful afternoon overall, so well worth it.


  1. Great Day. Great pics. 59 yrs old and I have never been in the State House before??? Some parts are beautiful and others pretty boring. Great staircase.

  2. how can you not include that your handsome brother used to work in both the State House (I disagree, I thing it is beautiful! You have to remember the times. Bulfinch was the architec.) and city hall ( I could have seen you from my office. McKillum (sp?) was the architec. Many don't like it (brutilist style).. I like the outside; not so much the inside) Plus, the Old School Comittee building on Tremont St.(where we had to get our working papers as kids). I would have loved to have been there to give you my "tour of ol'Boston"! Brian (as though you had to guess; think: earlier reference to handsome brother

  3. In all honesty Brian, I didn't even know Ma used to work in that building till Marie told me. I often say to Cathy if we are somewhere, "If Brian was here he could tell us about this or that"...You really should hang around more when your sister is visiting. And I hate to say it, but Massachusetts pales in comparison to some of the State Houses we have seen. If you think this is beautiful, you would be in awe of some that we have seen. I was a little disappointed in it...figured as one of the oldest it would be one of the best, but Utah, Connecticut, and Mississippi jump right out as ones that are realy impressive. Only New Mexico and Florida's new State House come to mind as less impressive.

  4. I noticed a couple things: Cathy is shrinking. Either that or she standing on a lower stair in the pic of the two of you near the water?
    Boston is pretty cool for the history. The thing that stood out though is that most of the other state houses you've been to have religious themes on their ceilings etc., and this one has images of the state and country's history (I'm sure some would argue that the religious stuff is history).
    Also, too, lots of good sculptures.

  5. I didn't even think of that Barb...didn't notice.

  6. Paula I think Ducky Foley had something to do with renovations of the builting. Sr. Helen

  7. I will have to ask Brian, Peggy or Patti about that. I will let you know.