The Massachusetts State House was built between 1795 and 1797 on Beacon Hill and overlooks the Boston Common. The site, a pasture owned by John Hancock, was lowered 50 ft. (15 m.) for the construction of the State House.
Charles Bulfinch’s Design
The self-taught architect Charles Bulfinch, who also built state houses for Connecticut (1796) and Maine (1832) based his design for the state house on Somerset House in London.
The building’s front features an elevated portico with a series of Corinthian columns. The red brick facade was painted white in 1825 and remained painted until 1928 when the bricks were exposed again. The bricks’ red color contrasts nicely with the white columns.
The large gilded dome is topped with a lantern and pinecone, symbol of the forests of Massachusetts. The dome was originally made of wood shingles. These were replaced in 1802 with copper.
In 1861, the dome was gilded and this remained so ever since, except during the Second World War, when it was painted black. In 1895 the State House was expanded with a large, yellow-colored annex, and in 1917 marble wings were added.
Guided tours of the Massachusetts State house are available year round and are free of charge. A web tour is also available on the site of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.