Located at the intersection of Washington and State Streets, within walking distance of historic Faneuil Hall, and on the Freedom Trail, is the oldest surviving public building in Boston, the Old State House. Now a non-profit history museum, this government building, built in 1713, is the seat of the first elected legislature in the newly-formed Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In its day, the Old State House was the center of Boston’s civic life, with many critical events leading up to the American Revolution having occurred right on this very site. The walls both inside and out have witnessed history-changing events such as the debate over the future of the British colonies by the likes of John Hancock, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Otis. Outside, the famed 1770 Boston Massacre would take place in front of the building on King Street where five men were among the first to be killed over the battle for independence. In 1761, James Otis would argue against the Writs of Assistance in the building’s Royal Council Chamber. Although he lost the case, his speech, written by John Adams, influenced public opinion to a degree such that it contributed the American Revolution. And, it was on the east-side balcony that, on July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was announced to Boston’s citizens. After the American Revolution, the Old State House would serve as the seat to the new Massachusetts state government, until in 1798, when it moved to Boston’s current State House.
In the 19th century, its use was varied and it served as city hall, a post office, a shopping arcade, the merchants’ exchange, and many offices. It wasn’t until 1881 that The Boston Society would restore the building and become a museum open to the public.
Visitors to the Old State House Museum will learn of fascinating stories and accounts of Boston’s rich history. Exhibits, located on two floors provide stories about the American Revolution and the role that the building and Boston played. Visitors will also see exhibits that include John Hancock’s coat, tea from the famed Boston Tea Party, paintings of Boston harbor, and other rich collections.
This is one venue that promises much to discover!Address/Contact Info
Old State House Museum
206 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02109