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5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Massachusetts State House

September 26, 2013 6:01 AM

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Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Most people know that the Massachusetts State House holds the offices of the Governor of Massachusetts, but here are five things you didn’t know about the building.
Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

1. Greener Pasture

The State House was built on land a cow pasture once owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor, John Hancock. The building was completed in 1789, while Hancock was still in office. It saw major expansions added in 1895 and 1917.

2. The Changing Colors Of The Dome

 The gilded dome that is visible atop the building today was originally made of wood. It leaked. But in 1802, Paul Revere’s company covered it with copper. The dome was eventually painted a light yellow before being gilded with gold leaf in 1874. During World War II the building was painted black as a way to prevent reflections during blackouts and to protect the city from potential aerial bombings. It was gilded again in 1997 in 23k gold.

(Photo credit: Andrea Courtois)

(Photo credit: Andrea Courtois)

3. Main Doors

The large main doors inside Doric Hall are only opened on three occasions:

  • When the President of the United States or a foreign head of state visits.
  • When the Governor exits the building on his or her last day in office. The tradition as the “Long Walk” when the governor exits the Executive Chamber alone, walks down to the 2nd floor, through Doric Hall and out the main doors. The governor then descends the staircase, crosses the street and enters Boston Common.
  • When a regimental flag is returned from battle. This has not been done since the Vietnam War, because flags are now returned to Washington, D.C.

4. Tradition Broken

The “Long Walk” tradition has been broken several times in recent memory. Governor William Weld descended the main stairs and met his successor Paul Cellucci. Gov. Cellucci was deprived of the chance to descend the steps because of renovations in the front of the building. Gov. Patrick chose to be sworn in on the staircase and give his inaugural address there, forcing then governor Mitt Romney to take the “Long Walk” the day before his last in office.

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)


5. State House On The Big Screen

The State House plays a number of roles in real life and in fiction. It houses the state’s legislative and executive branches, along with officials from a number of state agencies. But that’s not all it has been used for. In the 1982 film “The Verdict,” the interior served as a staged court house and hospital.

Bobby Driscoll is a student at Franklin Pierce University. He is currently interning at CBS Boston for the Summer of 2013.

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