Web Text-ures Logo

Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio

(Return to Web Text-ures)

Click Here to return to
Old Park Street
Content Page

 Return to the Previous Chapter

Kellscraft Studio Logo


IN 1795 the Hancock pasture became the property of the Town; and on May 2d of that year it was formally transferred to the Commonwealth “for the purpose of erecting thereon a State House for the accommodation of all the legislative and executive branches of the Government.” The corner-stone of the new building was laid with impressive ceremonies by the Governor, Samuel Adams, on Saturday, July 4, 1795, being the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Preliminary exercises were held in the Old South Church, where an oration was delivered by George Blake, Esq., and was received with great enthusiasm. In the large assemblage, which included many distinguished officials and other prominent citizens, “every countenance (some few excepted) smiled with joy and satisfaction. The whole audience listened with profound admiration to the end; when, as if by some impulse of sentiment and soul, the citizens filled the House of God with Praise and Joy.”

At the conclusion of these exercises a Procession was formed, as follows: 

The Independent Fusileers

Martial Music

Two Toilers


on a truck decorated with ribbons, and drawn by

fifteen white horses, with a leader.

Operative Masons

Grand Marshal

Stewards with Staves

Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts

Three Master Masons

bearing the Square, Level, and Plumb-Rule

Three Stewards

bearing Corn, Wine, and Oil

Master Masons

Officers of Lodges in their respective Jewels

Past Masters, Royal Arch, etc.

Grand Toiler

Band of Music, decorated

Grand Stewards

Grand Deacons with Wands

Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary

Past Grand Wardens

Grand Senior and Junior Wardens

Past Deputy Grand Masters

Past Grand Masters

Reverend Clergy

Grand Master attended by the

Deputy Grand Master and Stewards

Deputy Grand Marshal

Sheriff of Suffolk

The Agents of the Commonwealth

His Excellency the Governor

His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor

The Adjutant-General

The Quartermaster-General

The Honorable Council

Members of the Legislature

Clergy and Strangers of Distinction

In this order they marched to the State-House site, where the Corner-Stone was laid by Governor Adams, assisted by officials of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Massachusetts.1

It appears that at that time certain elements among the citizens of the Commonwealth were jealous of Boston’s supremacy as the Metropolis of New England. For to what other motive can be attributed the following extract from a Salem newspaper of September 15, 1795? “Notwithstanding that the cornerstone of a new State House has been laid with so much pomp in Boston, it is doubted whether a superstructure will ever rest upon it; as the factious attempts of the Bostonians to govern the State render that town a very improper place for legislative deliberations!”

On Thursday, January 11, 1798, the “Supreme Executive” met the members of the Legislature in the Senate Chamber of the Old State House; this being their last meeting in that historic building. And at noon of the same day the State officials, including the Senators and Representatives, with other dignitaries, proceeded to the new “Commonwealth House,” where the Reverend Doctor Thatcher, Chaplain of the General Court, in an eloquent address, “dedicated the building to the most honorable of human pursuits; the honor of God, and the people’s good.”2 Governor Increase Sumner also made an address, wherein he dwelt upon the advantages of the new edifice; commenting upon its convenient apartments, suitable retirement, wholesome surroundings, and delightful prospect. He remarked, moreover, that perhaps no more useful or magnificent public building was to be found in the United States at that time.

The distinguished editor, Richard Grant White, described the State-House Dome as a protension heavenward of the Hub of the Universe; the globed and gilded tip of that axis around which all that is best in western civilization revolves, ever has revolved, and as it seems, ever will revolve.

In the opinion of the same writer, the edifice, while not a very wonderful or beautiful structure, compels admiration on account of its expression of dignity, decorum, and eminent respectability.

The Dome, originally built of wood, was sheathed with copper in 1802. The red bricks of the main building were painted white in 1825. Many years later the lead color of the Dome was changed to yellow; and in 1874 a covering of gold leaf was applied. The present cupola dates from 1897, and is a reproduction of the original one.3

1 The Columbian Centinel, July 8, 1795.

2 The Centinel, January 13, 1798, 22.

3 The State House Guide. 1917.

Book Chapter Logo Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.