Old State House | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Old State House

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Luke Tomes

10 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Old State House

The Old State House in Boston played an important role in the American Revolution and is now one of the sites included in the Freedom Trail, a tourist trail made up of sixteen sites relating to the American Revolution against the British.

Old State House history

The Old State House was originally completed in 1713 and served the multiple functions of being a merchant’s hall and the seat of the colonial government. However, a fire in 1747 meant that it had to be rebuilt to a great extent in 1748 and further restoration and changes were made to the Old State House in 1830.

In 1761, in part of what is known as Paxton’s Case, the Old State House was the scene of James Otis Junior’s famous speech against Writs of Assistance, British warrants which conferred wide search powers on their beneficiaries. Otis’s speech failed to extinguish these writs, but did add to the increasing dissatisfaction which eventually led to the American Revolution.

The Old State House was also part of the Boston Massacre of 1770, as attested to by a plaque beneath its balcony which indicates that this was the location where British soldiers fired into a group of Bostonians. This balcony was the scene of happier times on 18 July 1776, when Colonel Thomas Crafts read out the Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time.

Old State House today

Today the Old State House is a museum of Boston’s history managed by the Bostonian Society as well as being part of Boston National Historical Park. Guided tours of the Freedom Trail – of which the State House forms a part – are available, but you can also walk it independently. A visit to the Boston’s Old State House tends to take half an hour to an hour.

Getting to Old State House

The entrance to the Old State House is located on the south side of the building, facing the pedestrian walkway, just a few steps off the red brick line of The Freedom Trail.

There are several parking sites in the vicinity of the Old State House, including the Post Office Square Garage, Pi Alley Garage, 75 State Street Garage.

If travelling via public transport, the nearest stations to Old State House are State Street (Orange/Blue Line), Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line).

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