As the main venue for the stormy debates leading up to the Revolutionary War, the Old State House in Boston might have been the most significant building in America for its role in the outcome of the organized New World. The early gatherings of Boston's great patriots shaped the political ideas and the vision of an America independent from England. The revolutionary movement formed within these walls, and the Old State House became the heart of political ponderings for the colonies as a whole.
Built in 1713 at the site of the original Town House, which had burnt down two years earlier, it is now the oldest, still standing public building in Boston. Back then, while housing a merchants' exchange on the first floor, John Hancock and others rented the basement as warehouse space. The Royal Governor had his room upstairs - this is where James Otis, John Adams and cousin Samuel (Adams), Paul Revere, and others argued with the British representatives over taxation and regulations imposed by London. The Massachusetts Assembly, an early legislature, also held its meetings upstairs, where the public could come and listen to the debates of their elected officials. In addition, the Old State House was the home of the Courts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, vital in drafting of the Massachusetts Constitution (which later became the basis for the United States Constitution), was one of them.
On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was announced from the balcony of the Old State House to a triumphant crowd of Bostonians. The very same day symbols of royal authority were burnt in Dock Square, and soon thereafter King's Street was renamed State Street. In the 1830s the Old State House became Boston's City Hall, and later it was used for commercial purposes. The building was restored by the Bostonian Society in 1881, and has since been a museum.
You can visit the Old State House Museum as part of a Freedom Trail tour, or on your own, exploring our country's early history through interactive exhibitions with artifacts like John Hancock's overcoat, and tea from the time of the Boston Tea Party. The Old State House can also be rented for weddings, dinner receptions and other private functions.
- Regular Hours: 9am to 5pm daily
- January: 9am to 4pm daily
- July and August: 9am to 6pm daily
- The museum is closed for maintenance the first week of February
- Adults: $7
- Students and Seniors: $6
- Youth (6-18 years of age): $3
- Ages five and under: Free
- (Members of the Bostonian Society, visitors with disabilities, Boston seniors, and Massachusetts children as part of a family group, are always admitted for free.) Currently, wheelchairs or strollers cannot be accommodated in the museum galleries.
- Subway Stop:
- Take the orange or blue "T" to State Street. As you get of the train, follow the signs for "Old State House". Or, take the green line to Government Center, and follow Court Street one block to State Street. You can also take the red line to Downtown Crossing, then walk Washington Street (toward City Hall) to State Street.
- Location: The corner of State and Washington Streets, downtown Boston
- Phone: 617-720-1713
- Website: www.bostonhistory.org