A New Lease for the Old State House

Bostonian Society President Executive Director Brian W J LeMay at the lease signing with Gregory Rooney, Commissioner of the City of Boston Property Management Department.

In a move that will help protect and advance the historic landmark and museum, the City of Boston and the Bostonian Society signed a new lease for the Old State House, located at 206 Washington Street in Boston. The 25-year lease entrusts the Bostonian Society with the preservation, maintenance, and interpretation of the oldest surviving public building in Boston.

Recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a part of the Boston National Historical Park, the Old State House originally served as the seat of Britain’s colonial government for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During the years leading up to the American Revolution, it was at the center of events in Boston that produced the foundational American ideals of self-governance. Following the Revolution, the building became the first capitol of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and later, the first City Hall of the City of Boston.

“Part of what makes Boston so special is our rich history and ties to the earliest days of our nation's founding, which is recognized by the thousands of visitors who come to our City every year to visit historic sites such as the original Massachusetts State House," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "I am proud to continue our long-standing partnership with the Bostonian Society, who for the last century have been responsible for the preservation of and maintenance of the Old State House. In Boston, we are incredibly fortunate to live among some of the nation's oldest and most treasured landmarks, and we will continue to preserve them with the utmost care and attention.”

“We are exceptionally grateful to Mayor Walsh for his commitment to Boston’s historical and cultural institutions, and we are honored by the trust the City has placed in us for the stewardship of this remarkable old building,” said Bostonian Society President and Executive Director Brian W. J. LeMay. “There is still much to be done to return it to a condition worthy of its status as a national treasure, and to explain properly why it is one of the most historically significant places in the country.”

The non-profit Bostonian Society was established in 1881 to oversee the first restoration of the Old State House after a proposal had been made to demolish the building. The City of Boston and the Bostonian Society have long held joint responsibility for the building’s maintenance and repair. The relationship is a unique one in Boston’s historic district, giving ownership of the site to the City and care of the site to a private non-profit.

Michael Creasey, General Superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, said, “When Boston National Historical Park was established in 1974, it was a pioneer in its approach to public/private cooperation and sharing of authorities, responsibilities, and costs. The park includes the Old State House and seven other sites in Boston that let us reflect on the heroic acts that led to personal freedom, civil, and human rights.  Today what was pioneered in Boston has a name—partnering—and is exemplified by this new lease between the City of Boston and the Bostonian Society to protect the landmark, carry its historical significance into the future, and bring it a renewed sense of promise.”

The previous 20-year lease on the building ended in 2014 and was followed by a series of extensions. The new lease gives the Bostonian Society full responsibility and authority to insure and preserve the facility, and provides greater latitude for the Society to seek funding and support for its care and interpretation.

“We are proud to be a longstanding supporter of the Bostonian Society and its mission to preserve and celebrate Boston’s incredible history,” said Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. “So we are delighted to learn that it has reached agreement with the city of Boston on the stewardship of the Old State House, ensuring this iconic building will be there for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

Please direct all press inquiries to the Bostonian Society's Marketing and Communications Manager, Stephen Libby, at stephen@bostonhistory.org.