The Council Chamber in the Old State House, where the Royal Governor of Massachusetts met with members of his Council, was once a key nerve center for the British empire in North America. When curators from the Bostonian Society set out to restore this historic room to its appearance during the early stages of the American Revolution, they knew they had a difficult task because none of the chamber’s original furniture had survived.
Records describing the Council Chamber’s furnishings did survive, however. Using these records curators were able to identify suitable examples of the eighteenth-century form, including a square drop-leaf table made by the noted Charlestown cabinet-maker Benjamin Frothingham, Jr., and three elaborately carved side chairs now owned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Next they turned to the master craftsmen at Boston’s North Bennet Street School for help in making meticulous reproductions of these artifacts. Eight craftsmen, including four members of the school’s faculty, set to work making twenty distinct pieces of furniture. Thanks to this unprecedented collaboration between the Bostonian Society and North Bennet Street School, visitors to the Council Chamber can now take a seat at a replica of the table where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Thomas Hutchinson once debated the future of the British empire