The Massachusetts State House
by Ben Poser
One very important Boston landmark which tourists seem to find interesting but native Bostonians (like me) seem not to really notice is the Massachusetts State House. Completed in 1798, it has been the seat of the state legislature ever since and is — I am told — one of the iconic symbols of the city. Located sprawling across 24 Beacon Street, it is an imposing yet elegant structure which looks over the Boston Common like a very real kind of judicial “big brother.”
For sure, the most obvious and eye-catching feature of the building is the golden dome crowning it. On sunny days, it shines so brightly that it can be seen for miles, and even when it’s cloudy it is still almost as visible. The gold is real gold leaf; the dome was originally lined with copper (installed by Paul Revere’s smithing company), then painted, and was later gilded in 1874 — that gold deteriorated over the years, and was finally re-gilded by order of the Commonwealth in 1997.
My group spent a reasonable amount of time walking around the State House, looking at the architecture, the surroundings, and the people milling around. Probably the most memorable episode from our trip was something which caught Kendi’s eye on the gate to the entrance on the building’s right-hand side, a sign which read “Hooker Entrance.” We giggled like teenagers do and went off to look for this possibly licentious entrance. We found it on the building’s left wing dominated by a massive bronze statue of the notorious ladies man General Joseph Hooker on horseback to welcome visitors. Kendi still found this so funny that, as I remember, he insisted on being photographed in front of the pedestal bearing the name “Hooker”; for fun, in a great moment of naughtiness I suggested that he pose holding a dollar bill, which he did, and the desired effect was achieved.
Since we were going to be walking around Beacon Hill, in truth I had expected that we might visit the State House, however I made the mistake of also expecting that it would be boring — obviously, I was wrong.
photo by Ben Poser