Two young girls examine a tea set on a side table in the Council Chamber.

Seat of the British Empire

Pass through these doors and you are transported to the birth of American independence. The Council Chamber, where the Royal Governor of Massachusetts met with members of his Council, was a nerve center for the British Empire in North America, and a direct link between Bostonians and the Crown. Today furnished with meticulous reproductions and interactive displays, visitors experience this room as it appeared more than 250 years ago. Sit in the Royal Governor's chair, thumb through reproduction documents on display at the Council table, and explore how culture, commerce, and ideas combined to define a distinctly "British" Boston just prior to the American Revolution. Once an exclusive space for the most powerful men in Massachusetts, now all are invited to connect to our nation’s history.

Entrance is included with general admission to the Old State House.

Frequently Asked Questions >>

The Bostonian Society wishes to thank the National Park Service for its generous support of this project. The Society also thanks its partner, the North Bennet Street School, whose talented faculty and alumni crafted the furniture on display in the Council Chamber.

Selected Program Images

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  • How do I get to the Old State House?
    Please visit our Maps & Directions page.

  • Where is the exhibit?
    The exhibit is upstairs on the second floor of the Old State House.

  • Are there any accessibility concerns to attend the exhibit?
    Please visit our Accessibility FAQs.

  • Can I touch the things in this room?
    Absolutely! We invite you to sit in the chairs, investigate the items on the table, and get a selfie in the Governor’s seat. Please refrain from touching items on the wall or in display cases, but the rest of the room is there for you to explore.

  • Can I go out on the balcony?
    Unfortunately, the balcony is not safe for visitors, and the door to the balcony must remain closed.

  • Why was the room restored to its 1764 appearance?
    1764 was chosen as a year representing Britain at the peak of its Imperial rule over the American colonies, before many of the key incidents that sparked the movement for American Independence.

  • How did you know what it looked like?
    There are contemporary accounts of the room available. We made particular use of the papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Massachusetts from 1760 to 1769, where he described the paintings on the walls, the furniture, and even the curtains.

  • Who did the restoration work?
    The furnishings including the large central table and chairs were crated by eight craftsmen, including four faculty, from the North Bennet Street School, which has a programs focusing on cabinet and furniture making and preservation carpentry, and is just a few blocks away from the Old State House.

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