Historic Boston Real Estate

Faneuil Hall

Originally built in 1742, rebuilt in 1806 by Bulfinch and restored in 1979 and 1992

 [Faneuil Hall]

Designed in the style of an English country market with an open ground floor and an assembly room above by John Smibert in 1742, Faneuil Hall was a gift of French Huguenot Peter Faneuil.

By Charles Bulfinch's time, the hall was becoming cramped, so Bulfinch enlarged it so that it retained its Colonial character while doubling its width and adding a third floor. This increased the height of the assembly hall and added space in the attic. In addition, the cupola was moved to the Dock Square end the building and the ground floor open arcades were enclosed.

At the same time, the dormers were made barrel-shaped, echoing the bull's-eye windows in the pediments. Brick pilasters in the Doric order existed on the first two floors; the new third floor was made in the Ionic order, however. Inside, galleries were added on three sides of the meeting hall as well as decorative elements including swag panels on the walls.

Later in 1899, the hall was rebuilt using noncombustible materials.

The Old State House

State Street at Washington Street, built 1713, rebuilt 1748, and renovated 1991

 [Old State House]

Despite the towering office buildings that have grown up around it, the Old State House remains the focus of State Street. From the mid-seventeenth century onward, the old Town House and the State House that replaced it were the center of business and political life of the colony.

Its gambrel roof is concealed from the end elevations by the stepped and pedimented end facades. An ornate three-tier windowed tower rises above the slate roof. The lion and unicorn symbols of the crown from pre-Revolutionary times ornament the State Street gable above the bull's-eye windows. From the ceremonial balcony with segmental pediment over Corinthian pilasters, the Declaration of Independence was first read in 1776.

State House

Beacon Street - Designed by Charles Bulfinch, 1797; renovated in 1993

 [State House]

The facade features a central projecting portico with colonnade of Corinthian columns (originally of solid Maine pine but replaced by cast iron in 1960) supported on an arcade of brick arches. The gilded dome rests on a higher central pediment above brick pilasters. A lantern topped with a gilded pinecone, symbol of the abundant forest of Massachusetts, sits atop the dome.

The dome was originally whitewashed wood shingles until 1861 when the dome was gilded. Inside, a Doric Hall exists on the first floor both under the dome and in the Senate Chamber.

Louisburg Square

 [Louisburg Square]

Built in 1834-1848, this is the epitome of Beacon Hill. It demonstrates site planning at the neighborhood scale with a central green park defined by a tall iron fence facing rows of varied, yet dignified and unified red brick row houses along cobblestone streets.

The private elongated oval park in the center with common ownership by all the property owners fronting on it was an innovation in the US. The Louisburg Square Proprietors was the first homeowners association in the country.

In 1850, a Greek merchant living at 3 Louisburg Square donated statues of Aristides and Columbus still on display.

Trinity Church, Boston, MA

Copley Square, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, 1877

 [Trinity Church]

Bids for the church ranged from $350,000 to $640,000 and far exceeded the $200,000 limit established by the building committee. A contract was signed for $290,000 with a contractor from Worcester, but by the time the church was completed, the cost had risen to nearly $750,000.

The Cathedral of Salamanca inspired the church's massive square tower. The more detailed, intricate design of the tower is thought to be the influence of Sanford White, while the lower part of the church is more simple and massive in the Richardson tradition.

Since the church was to be built on wet filled land in the Back Bay, Richardson needed to be concerned about the weight of the tower. Nonetheless, the final tower still weighs 90 million pounds but rests on 2,000 wooden piles in a 90 foot square. On top of the piles stand four granite pyramids 35 feet square and 17 feet high. They support the corner piers of the tower. Because the pilings are of wood, they must be kept submerged in water. The level of the water table beneath the church is constantly monitored.

Color played an important role both inside and outside. Richardson chose red Longmeadow sandstone for the trim. John La Farge was responsible for designing the rich and colorful interiors, in which one will see a La Farge trademark -- an abundance of stained glass.

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This document located at http://www.shore.net/~straub/Hist_Bos_RE.htm was last updated January 26, 1998.