Built in 1713, this brick structure served as the seat of colonial government before the Revolution and as the state capitol until 1798. From its balcony, the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians on July 18, 1776. In 1789, Pres. George Washington reviewed a parade from here. The exterior decorations are particularly interesting -- the clock was installed in place of a sundial, and the gilded lion and unicorn are reproductions of the original symbols of British rule that were ripped from the facade and burned the day the Declaration of Independence was read.
Inside is the Bostonian Society's museum of the city's history. The society was founded in 1881 to save this building, which was badly deteriorated and, incredibly, was about to be sold and shipped to Chicago. Two floors of exhibits focus on the role of the city and the building in the Revolution and the events that led to it -- a Paul Revere print depicting the Boston Massacre and tea from the Boston Tea Party are on view -- but this experience is anything but a static history lesson. A multimedia presentation helps visitors learn about the Boston Massacre, an interactive display helps recount the story of the building, and changing exhibits focus on other topics, such as the Great Fire of 1872, using vintage photographs and artifacts from the society's collections.
To continue on the Freedom Trail: Leave the building, turn left, and walk half a block.
- © Frommer's 2013