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The Society and Old State House in the News
About the Bostonian Society
Established in 1881, the nonprofit Bostonian Society is the primary steward and caretaker of the Old State House and its collection of Revolutionary American artifacts and records. The Society is twice credited with rescuing the Old State House from destruction, first organizing opposition to its demolition as a ‘traffic impediment,’ and later to the rejection of an offer by Chicago's citizens to move the building to Lake Michigan. Since then it has preserved and maintained this national historic treasure and interpreted for the public the important stories contained herein. In addition to operating a museum of Revolutionary Boston history, the Bostonian Society maintains a research library and a collection of over 7,500 books, 350 maps, and over 30,000 photographs. The Bostonian Society also holds an extensive collection of paintings, statuary, clothing, weaponry, medals, and ephemera. The Bostonian Society is dedicated to studying, and preserving Boston's uniquely important history, embodied in materials, records, and structures such as the Old State House, and in sharing with the public an understanding of the important revolutionary ideas born here.
About the Old State House
Historians agree that no surviving landmark from pre-revolutionary America equals the importance of the Old State House in recounting the story of our nation's struggle for freedom. Built in 1713 as the seat of Royal government in provincial Massachusetts, the Old State House both symbolized and helped define the place of the North American colonies in Britain's eighteenth-century empire. It was the center of activity during pre-revolutionary America. It remains nestled quietly in the heart of Boston's downtown financial district, its cornerstone still serving as Boston's zero milestone point. For 300 years, the Old State House has stood as a symbol of liberty, freedom and representative government. In 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred here. In July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was first read to the jubilant citizens of Boston from its balcony. Within its halls, our founding fathers articulated the fundamental ideas that formed the foundation of our nation, and still inform our issues today. It was here, John Adams wrote, that “the child independence was born.” And it was here John Hancock assumed office as the Commonwealth's first democratically-elected governor under the Massachusetts Constitution, the world's oldest written constitution still in use.
About the Old State House Tercentenary Celebration in 2013
While the Old State House is viewed as a Boston icon, its importance is not always adequately explained to the 100,000 people visiting it each year. Little about the immensely important events that occurred here is understood by most visitors, and even by most Bostonians, for whom it is merely a quaint, oddly-mute old building. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Old State House, the Bostonian Society is launching a dramatic new ‘must-see’ visitor experience and an ambitious three-phased restoration of the site that will restore it to its former glory and illuminate for the public what happened here during the era that gave birth to our nation. The Old State House is an irreplaceable asset to Boston and indeed to America. The Bostonian Society is working to transform this extraordinarily important site into a place of nationally-recognized significance and the pride of the Commonwealth.
The Society's monthy e-newsletter, The Exchange
Unique Revolutionary Artifacts in the Society's Collection
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