The first stop on my six-state capitol tour was Boston. As I have planned for this trip to New England to visit six state capitals, I wondered if it will be worth it. Then, I visited the Massachusetts State House on Monday, and it was great. Lots of history to learn, art objects to view, and architecture to see. (I should pause here and remind everyone that “capital” is a city and “capitol” is a building.)
There have been five presidents born in Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, John Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush. I found it interesting that there were lots of people recognized in and around the capitol building, but the only president with a statue is Kennedy. I can’t recall any artwork dedicated to John Quincy or Calvin Coolidge. Heck, in Minnesota we named a football stadium and airport after Hubert Humphry, and he was only a Vice-President.
The original part of the state house was completed in 1798 which makes it one of the oldest state capitols in the country. A major addition to the state house was completed in 1885, which added the House of Representatives chamber.
The dome is covered with gold leaf. Right below the dome is the Senate chamber which is currently under construction. I was not able to view the inside of the Senate chamber or the dome.
The grounds around a state capitol building are sometimes as interesting as what’s inside. The Massachusetts state capitol grounds are not as large as the grounds around the capitol buildings in the middle of the country. People who have statues on the grounds include President John Kennedy, Senator Daniel Webster, educator Horace Mann, General Joseph Hooker, Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer. You should google the last two brave women.
The Memorial Hall is magnificent. It was completed in 1900. Lots of marble. The four murals show the pilgrims on the Mayflower, “The Return of the Colors” at the end of the civil war, John Eliot preaching to the Indians (I should probably say Native Americans, but the caption to the painting says Indians), and the Battle of the Concord Bridge. I’m not sure that John Eliot would be included if the murals were painted today.
The artwork on the left is called “Hear Us” and recognizes women who have contributed to the public life of Massachusetts. http://masshumanities.org/programs/shwlp/shwlp-tour/
The mural on the right is General Patton awarding the Silver Star to a Massachusetts soldier in 1945. It is one of the few works of art recognizing someone from the 20th century.
The ceiling in this room recognizes four heroes from the revolutionary war: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Joseph Warren. I had to google the last two. I wonder why President John Adams was not included here.
Murals recognizing Paul Revere’s ride and the Boston Tea Party – two pretty important events in Massachusetts history – actually, in American history.
The grand staircase with stained glass window at the top.
The House of Representatives chamber. There are 160 representatives and only 40 senators. That is the fifth highest number of representatives for a state and one of the few states that have a ratio of 4 to 1.
That’s it for now. On to Providence and Hartford on Wednesday.