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Old State House, the 1713 edifice located on the corner of State and Washington streets, is the oldest of the public buildings that still exist in Boston.The Old State House has served as a merchants exchange as well as the seat of colonial and state governments. Today, the Old State House is maintained as a museum of Boston History by The Bostonian Society.Old State House was built on the site of Boston's first Town House of 1657-58 (burned in 1711), to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. At the time, the building was a natural meeting place of citizens for the exchange of local news.In those days, the merchants exchange occupied the first floor while the ground floor was a rented warehouse. It was this room that had witnessed numerous stirring speeches and debates by dedicated Patriots against the ruling British Crown in the mid-1700s.The second floor was the meeting place of the Massachusetts Assembly, the first legislative body in the colonies to call for sectional unity, and the formation of the Stamp Act Congress.Old State House’s west end housed the Courts of Suffolk County and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for many years. constitution is based.The Old State House balcony, located on the east side of the building looking down State Street, was the site from which official proclamations were read to the public. The historic Declaration of Independence in 1776 was read from the balcony.The area beneath the Old State House balcony is the site of the infamous Boston Massacre. Today, a circle of cobblestones mark the site.Following the revolution, the Old State House continued to serve as the seat of Massachusetts’ government until all government functions were transferred to a new State House built on Beacon Hill in 1798. In the mid 20th century, several alterations were made in the building to suit its tenants, which actually compromised its original grace.Now, the Old State House is owned by the City of Boston. It is a site within the Boston National Historical Park and one of the museums on the Freedom Trail.
Visit Connecticut's 1796 State House
Welcome to the home of 360-degree democracy. What does that mean? Simple: the past shapes the future. Government represents the governed. Leaders – of every kind – were once just regular people like you and me. Here at Connecticut's Old State House – the very spot where Connecticut's democracy was born – you'll learn about how it was born and who made it happen.
You'll meet people who went from ordinary to history-making by standing up for what they believed: and maybe think about where you fit in to "government by the people" yourself. And when you're ready for a break, we have a two-headed calf, Mark Twain's bicycle, and dozens of other pieces of Connecticut's amazing and eccentric history for you to enjoy. That's not just 360-degree democracy. That's 360 degrees of fun!
Connecticut's Old State House
800 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
Wondering why you should come visit the Old State House? Watch this video and learn why.
Created by the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network and the Department of Economic and Community Development with additional funding provided by Connecticut Humanities.
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Old State House
Historical Marker #1524 in Frankfort notes the location of the Old State Capitol, which served as the state’s center of government from 1830 to 1910.
Due to the generous donation of land and building materials by the town's citizens, Frankfort was chosen as the permanent capital of Kentucky. In 1794, the first capitol building was constructed, which served as the state's seat of government until it burned in 1813. A new building was built in 1816, but it, too, was destroyed by fire in 1824. Shortly thereafter, a third capitol building was commissioned. Construction began in 1827 and was completed in 1830. The building still stands today. It served as the center of state government until a larger capitol building (the current state capitol) was constructed in south Frankfort in 1910.
Gideon Shryrock, the young architect from Lexington who was chosen to design the building, selected the Greek Temple of Minerva as a model for the structure. The building was constructed from limestone quarried from Franklin and Mercer counties and included intricate plaster work believed to have been molded by craftsman and a free man of color named Harry Mordecai.
The Old State Capitol has been the scene of several significant events and hosted numerous noted period politicians. Senator Henry Clay spoke in the building a number of times. One of his last speeches there was in the fall of 1850. In his message to the General Assembly, Clay noted that because of the sectional issue of slavery, the emergence of two new political parties appeared imminent. One would be for the Union and the other against it. Clay stated, "Whatever may be its component elements, I am for the party that is for the Union."
When the Civil War erupted a decade later, Kentucky, as a proslavery border state, found itself in an unenviable position. Governor Beriah Magoffin called for the General Assembly to meet on May 6, 1861. In that message Magoffin wrote, "Whatever else should be done, it is, in my judgment, the duty of Kentucky, without delay, to place herself in a complete position for defense." On May 20, the legislature heeded the governor's recommendation and declared neutrality. That decision lasted until September, when the state chose to remain in the Union.
In September 1862, the Old State Capitol was captured by Confederate forces, which held it for about a month. The Union legislature fled to Louisville. On September 4, Confederate Governor Richard Hawes was inaugurated in a ceremony at the capitol building. That day, Union forces approached Frankfort from Louisville and the Confederates retreated south. The Battle of Perryville was fought in Boyle County four days later.
After a particularly close and contested governor's election in 1899, the state capitol was the scene of murder and conspiracy. Democratic candidate William Goebel was shot while approaching the building. During the next few days the legislature named Goebel governor, but he died shortly thereafter. Today, the Old State Capitol serves as an educational tool for the Kentucky Historical Society. Thousands of school children visit this historic structure each year to learn about the state's rich history.
The marker reads:
Kentucky's third capitol on this site was built in 1827-1829 of Kentucky River marble. The two previous capitols were destroyed by fire. Gideon Shryock of Lexington, one of the state's most distinguished architects, designed the building which introduced Greek Revival style to Kentucky. Its most outstanding feature is the self-supporting, stone circular stairway. Joel Scott, keeper of penitentiary, invented a wire saw to cut the rough stone to expedite construction. This building, Shryock's masterpiece, served as seat of government for eighty years until completion of New Capitol in 1909. Daniel Boone and wife Rebecca lay in state here in 1845 before their reinterment in Frankfort. Only state capitol in U.S. captured by Confederate forces, September 1862. Gov. William Goebel assassinated here, January 30, 1900. Home of the Kentucky Historical Society since 1920 restored, 1973-75. Extensive museum-open to public.
Portrait of George Washington
After the death of George Washington in December 1799, the Delaware General Assembly, immediately upon convening in January 1800, resolved that a portrait be commissioned “in consequence of the eventful and ever to be lamented death of the late illustrious chief and friend of America General George Washington.” Denis Alexander Volozan (born Lyon, France, 1765 died Philadelphia, PA 1820) was engaged to paint the portrait with the instruction that Washington was to appear as large as life. Volozan’s painting was one of the very first and largest of portraits to be commissioned (26 days) after Washington’s death.
Volozan had recently arrived in America from France, settling in Philadelphia in 1799 where he established a reputation as a neoclassical painter and architect, and where he made the acquaintance of a number of artists including the noted portraitist Gilbert Stuart. At that time, dozens of portraits and likenesses of Washington had been created in every corner of the newly formed nation. In 1796, Stuart himself had painted an iconic likeness of Washington known as “The Athenaeum” which is now featured on the United States one dollar bill. As it is unlikely that Volozan had ever met Washington, it is probable that he used likenesses painted by other artists, such as the one created by Stuart, when the time came for him to complete his own portrait of the Revolutionary War leader and first president of the United States.
Volozan’s finished portrait, measuring seven feet by five feet, was completed in 1802 and transported aboard the sloop Dove from Philadelphia to Dover Landing (located on the St. Jones River just east of the present-day Legislative Hall). From there it was delivered by horse and wagon to the newly built Delaware State House (1791) where it was installed first in the chamber of the House of Representatives and later in the Senate chamber where it is currently displayed. The total cost was $513.03, including $400 for the painting and $93 for an elegant frame.
Since its installation, the painting has been repaired or restored seven times beginning in 1836 and again in 1915, 1920, 1966, 1968, 1976 for the Bicentennial and finally in 2007 when both the painted surface and gilded Victorian frame were repaired in conjunction with the most recent restoration of The Old State House.
Old State House - History
Designed by Charles Bulfinch and built in 1796, the Old State House is the oldest state house in the nation. The building opened in May 1796. Oliver Wolcott, signer of the Declaration of Independence was the first Governor to serve here. The building was the seat of state government until 1878, when the present Capitol was opened.
Major state and national events have, and continue to occur at the Old State House. Lafayette was made a citizen here, many American presidents, including Jackson, Monroe, Johnson, Ford and Bush have visited. President Carter gave the U.S.S. Nautilus to Connecticut in a ceremony at the Old State House in 1981. The trials of Cinque and the Amistad opened here in 1839. P.T. Barnum served in the legislature here, and notables such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Samuel Colt and Harriet Beecher Stowe visited the building.
The Old State House is a registered National Landmark. The restored historic chambers and grounds are now site of events such as the Old State House&rsquos Conversations at Noon series, the Old State House Farmer&rsquos Market, exhibitions, concerts and guided tours. The Old State House also hosts school groups and provides many educational and engaging programs that cover a variety of topics for multiple grade levels. It is run as a non-profit by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, Inc. You can learn more about the Old State House, its programs and upcoming events by visiting its website at www.ctosh.org .
Reproduced from the Connecticut State Register & Manual with permission of the Secretary of the State.
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Old State House
The Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. The structure was built to accommodate all branches of the new state’s government. It served a multitude of uses before becoming, in 1951, a museum of Arkansas history. Under the direction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Old State House Museum continues to interpret Arkansas history from statehood to the present.
In 1833, believing that Arkansas would soon achieve statehood, territorial governor John Pope hired Gideon Shryock, the architect of the Kentucky State Capitol, to design a state capitol building perched high on a bank of the Arkansas River. Shryock drew up plans for a large stone structure with a copper roof, built in the Greek Revival architectural style so popular for public buildings at that time. He sent associate George Weigart to oversee the work. Weigart modified the plans due to budget limitations, reduced the size of the building, replaced the stone with stucco-covered brick, and used faux graining on interior doors and columns and faux marbling on mantles. It is originally believed to have been designed as three separate buildings to house the three branches of government. The central block featured a portico with a massive pediment and Doric columns on both the north and south façades. Construction was well under way by 1836, when Arkansas became a state.
The House and Senate chambers (legislative branch) were located in the center section, with the executive branch in the west wing and the judicial branch in the east wing. The first session of the Arkansas General Assembly met in the original House of Representatives chamber in 1836 while construction continued around the legislators. Although Governor Archibald Yell declared the building “complete” in 1842, covered walkways were soon added to connect the three structures.
In 1885, the State House saw its first expansion. The columns and porch on the north (or river) side—twin to the Markham Street side—were removed, and the building was extended approximately fifty feet, creating a larger chamber for an expanded House of Representatives. The Greek Revival–style porch on the river side was not replaced. Some interior improvements included Victorian-influenced curving staircases, skylights, and an opening in the rotunda area, while exterior improvements featured elaborate iron grillwork and statues of the Three Graces (Law, Justice, and Mercy) placed atop the building.
The State House was the site of many significant events throughout the nineteenth century. In 1837, Speaker of the House John Wilson fatally stabbed Representative Joseph J. Anthony after a debate over taxes. In May 1861, the second session of the Secession Convention met in the original House of Representatives chamber all but one delegate, Isaac Murphy, voted for the state to secede from the Union. The building was home to the Confederate government until Union forces captured Little Rock in September 1863, leading the Confederate government to relocate to Washington (Hempstead County). Isaac Murphy was then sworn in as governor of Federal-controlled Arkansas.
In 1874, the State House was the scene of another armed conflict, the Brooks-Baxter War, as Joseph Brooks and Elisha Baxter fought over the outcome of the 1872 gubernatorial race. In 1891, Arkansas legislators engaged in fiery debate over the proposed Separate Coach Law, which would separate blacks and whites riding in the same train cars the bill passed virtually unopposed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and became the first of many segregationist laws passed in Arkansas.
The grounds of the State House are home to several famous landmarks. The three-tiered fountain with cranes is a recast of the original fountain that sat in front of the Arkansas Building during the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The fountain traveled by train to Arkansas after the exposition ended and was installed in front of the State House in 1877, one year before the first city water system began to operate. The Lady Baxter Cannon is a Civil War–era cannon used as part of Little Rock’s defense against Union forces. Later, Elisha Baxter’s supporters moved the cannon to the grounds during the Brooks-Baxter War.
By 1911, the State House was badly in need of repair. State government had outgrown the building, and many legislators objected to spending money to repair a building that was by then too small. Following completion of a new state capitol, all government offices moved out of the State House, leaving its future in question. The next year, the University of Arkansas Medical Department (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) moved into the former capitol and operated in parts of the building until 1935. An important research endeavor with national and international significance, known as the Crossett Experiment, was conducted by the Arkansas Board of Health and the medical school to eradicae hookworm and malaria.
The building was given to the Arkansas Department of the American Legion and renamed the Arkansas War Memorial in 1921. The building offered services for returning veterans, including a soup kitchen, but was most well known as a monument for all Arkansas veterans. Patriotic and civic organizations—such as the Arkansas Veterans Service Bureau, the Arkansas Pioneers Association, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts—shared space with the medical school during the early twentieth century.
Members of these patriotic organizations helped lobby the Arkansas General Assembly to restore the former State House and turn it into a museum. In 1947, legislation was passed that turned the former capitol into a museum of Arkansas history. After undergoing restoration costing $350,000, which included replacing the roof and other significant structural improvements, the former state capitol officially opened to the public on February 14, 1951. On December 3, 1969, the Old State House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Early exhibits in the museum included period rooms the west wing of the building also housed the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives) until its move to the current Arkansas State Capitol complex in 1979.
Agnes Loewer, the museum’s first curator, initiated a donation and collection policy shortly after coming to work. Over the years, the museum has aggressively collected materials such as items related to Arkansas’s first families, nineteenth- and twentieth-century politics, and architecture quilts made by black Arkansans art pottery nineteenth-century battle flags and memorabilia of the Arkansas State Police. The museum sponsors and publishes original research for permanent and changing exhibitions.
The museum continues to host significant events. Governor William Jefferson Clinton announced his run for U.S. president on the front lawn of the State House and held victory night watch parties there in 1992, and again in 1996. On December 9, 1997, the Old State House was designated a National Historic Landmark, the highest recognition a building can receive, due to the significance of the Crossett Experiment.
Today, this state-run museum is open free of charge 361 days each year and interprets Arkansas history from statehood to the present through both permanent and changing exhibits. Permanent exhibits include “Pillars of Power,” devoted to the history of the building itself “First Families of Arkansas,” featuring political memorabilia and the inaugural gowns worn by Arkansas’s first ladies the 1836 House of Representatives chamber, restored to its 1840s appearance and the 1885 House of Representatives chamber. The museum offers hourly on-site tours and provides free on-site programming for visitors of all ages, including gallery talks and lectures, musical concerts, family programs, summer youth camps, hands-on activities for K-12 audiences, and living history. The museum’s outreach program is extensive as well. Education staff members travel throughout Arkansas providing programs free of charge for youth and adult audiences on topics relating to the history of the building, as well as to both permanent and changing exhibits. Program themes include music, politics, architecture, military history, quilting, women’s history, and prehistoric history.
For additional information:
An Enduring Image: Arkansas’s Old State House. Old State House Museum Virtual Exhibit. http://www.oldstatehouse.com/exhibits/archive/enduring-images.aspx (accessed May 18, 2011).
Guendling, Randall L., and Mary L. Kwas. “The Historical Archeology of Arkansas’ Old State House.” Fayetteville: Arkansas Archeological Survey, 1997.
Kwas, Mary L. A Pictorial History of Arkansas’s Old State House: Celebrating 175 Years. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2011.
“Old State House.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PU3095.nr.pdf (accessed June 6, 2015).
Old State House Museum. http://www.oldstatehouse.org/ (accessed February 7, 2008).
Pitcock, Cynthia DeHaven. “National Historic Landmarks of Arkansas: The Old State House and the Crossett Experiment.” Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1997. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed May 31, 2016).
Shank, Ned. Arkansas’ First State Capitol, 1885–1947. Little Rock: Arkansas Commemorative Commission, 1977.
A Brief History Of The Old State House, Boston
As the oldest surviving public building in the city, the Old State House is an iconic Boston landmark. The current Massachusetts State House is located just half a mile away, and its construction was completed in 1798. At this time, the Old State House was already in operation for 85 years, during which it housed significant events in Boston’s history.
While it mainly served as a political hub, the Old State House was a multi-use building. One floor housed a merchant’s exchange the basement operated as a warehouse, and political leaders occupied the second floor, including the Council Chamber of the Royal Governor, where, in 1761, Massachusetts lawyer James Otis famously argued against Writs of Assistance. Although he lost his case, John Adams would later call this the event that motivated the revolutionary movement.
What may be the most famous revolutionary event in front of the Old State House is the Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, British soldiers killed five colonists and injured six. This would become a defining moment of the Revolutionary movement, and shortly after, a propaganda battle ensued between the colonists and the British. Paul Revere famously portrayed the incident in Boston magazines, where the Old State House can be seen in the background. Six years later, on July 18, 1776, Colonel Thomas Crafts read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House. Along with this proclamation, every Boston newspaper printed the document the same day.
While Massachusetts’ government moved to Beacon Hill in 1798, the Old State House was used for a number of years. Starting in 1830, it served as Boston City Hall for over a decade and then was rented for commercial use in 1841. It wasn’t until 1881 that the Bostonian Society was formed to preserve and restore the Old State House.
If you visit the Old State House today, you’ll find a much different environment than what the original builders would have seen. In what was once a wide open area, the building is now tucked into the towering office buildings of Government Center, standing out due to its all-brick exterior. You can stand on the marked spot where the Boston Massacre occurred and look up at the balcony where Col. Crafts proclaimed the Declaration of Independence. Of course, there are some drastic changes made to the building, including the addition of the MBTA State Street stop in the basement. Tours are available daily, and it’s always a stop on the Freedom Trail. The Bostonian Society continues to own and operate the building today, which has just passed its 300th birthday.
Two tours are given year-round by the staff of the Old State House. The Old State House Gallery Talk is a tour of the government rooms on the second floor. The Boston Massacre Gallery Talk is a talk given at the Boston Massacre site located just outside the front door. Both are included in the price of admission. They last 25 minutes and alternate every half hour, so it is possible to attend them back-to-back. If one runs a few extra minutes, the guide will bring you to the location of the next tour. You might miss a little bit, but you can still attend. I was able to make both on time with a little hustle.
See the following web pages for my detailed reviews of the tours at the Old State House.
Furthermore, to learn more about the Old State House, be sure to spend some time in the Old State House Museum.
Council Chamber at the Old State House
Old State House Lion and Unicorn: An Unfolding Story
The restoration process of a historic landmark so often yields surprising discoveries. Old newspapers and handwritten notes buried in walls, and names and initials of workmen carved into timbers are some of the delights of discovery. This August, the anticipated restoration of the copper Lion and Unicorn, iconic figures gracing the top of the East Façade of Boston’s Old State House, may prompt such discovery.
The Old State House, at the head of State Street, has offered us a veritable odyssey of reincarnation. The Old State House dates from 1713. Yet, as with so many long lasting structures, over 300 years it has lent itself to changes in use and appearance: site of colonial government, then town hall, then state house, then physical reconfigurations to house commercial offices and retail establishments.
Since 2006, restoration/rehabilitation and retrofit efforts, commissioned by The Bostonian Society, have been ongoing. This year a key element of these initiatives will be the removal, inspection and restoration of the copper Lion and Unicorn. The originals, in polychrome wood, symbols of British rule, were removed and burned during the passion of the American Revolution. In 1882, when the building was restored to its “colonial appearance”, replacements were carved and installed. Again during a period of restoration/renovation, those two rotting wood figures were removed and a Boston coppersmith, Movses H. Gulesian, was commissioned in 1900 by the State to replace the wooden Lion and Unicorn with copper ones.
Movses Gulesian? And here the story unfolds!
Motivated by an almost utopian vision of America and fearful of the repression and dangers of late 19 th Century Ottoman Turkey, this 17 year old Armenian left his family and Armenian Christian community of Marash for a long and dangerous passage by way of Smyrna and Palermo, arriving in New York City in May 1883. He survived with a few Turkish coins in his pocket and slept on a park bench. After many days, without knowing English, he managed to connect with a fellow countryman who took him in to wind bobbins in a carpet shop. After seven months, somewhat overwhelmed by the pace of New York City, but with a growing proficiency of his new language and a sense of security in his newfound country, he left seeking continuation of his apprenticeship with copper and sheet ironwork in Worcester.
Ultimately, this penniless, yet hardworking immigrant, would acquire citizenship, thrive and achieve fortune in late 19 th century Boston.
While personal security, substantial fortune and entrepreneurial opportunities were realized in Gulesian’s adopted country, his commitment to good work ethics and philanthropy was not forgotten. He not only sponsored the immigration of his extended family, but sponsored, during the late 1890’s, scores of refugees from the “old country,” giving many employment and transitional lodging in his Waltham factory building. His efforts in this regard encouraged a longstanding relationship with Mrs. Samuel Barrows, Clara Barton, Frances E. Willard, Wm. Lloyd Garrison and aid organizations, including the United Friends of Armenia, the Red Cross, and the World Christian Temperance Union.
To most who have heard of Movses Gulesian, he is remembered as the one who saved the old frigate Constitution, Old Ironsides. In December 1908, he had read in the daily paper that Charles J. Bonaparte, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, considered the deteriorating Constitution no longer needed and might possibly be towed out of Boston Harbor, to be used as target practice, and ultimately scrapped.
Gulesian, grateful for the opportunities available in his adopted country, became a passionate student of U.S. history. To him, Old Ironsides was an icon, launched in Boston in 1797, built with the timbers of a Boston shipwright, gun carriages built in South Boston, sails made in Boston and copper bolts and spikes made by non-other than Paul Revere.
His offer of ten thousand dollars, via telegram to Secretary Bonaparte, drew a prompt response that the U.S. Navy had no authority to sell the ship, a move that required Congressional action. The telegram was made public by the Navy Department through the Associated Press and thus an article in the Boston Evening Transcript. With that publicity, citizen and government petitions forced Congress to act. Old Ironsides would be saved.
Publicity and controversy were also to emerge regarding the authorized copper fabrication of the Lion and Unicorn. The Pilot, June 28, 1902, referenced them as “Relics of Royalty,” reminding its readers that one hundred twenty-five years ago, in celebration of the National Birthday, the patriotic citizens of Boston tore down those reminders of British rule, “burning them, along with every sign that belonged to a Tory.” Yet in 1882, the Common Council of Boston had those “emblems of royalty” replaced. At “the dawn of another Fourth of July in Rebel Town,” The Pilot argued for their permanent removal.
In contrast, the Boston Transcript viewed the Lion and Unicorn as merely “orphaned emblems of British Sovereignty”. The Transcript’s position was that the replacement of the Lion and Unicorn was appropriate to the “completion of the old building as an antiquity”. Despite this degree of opinion and passion concerning another “replacement” with Gulesian’s new copper Lion and Unicorn, they were ultimately installed.
As footnote, the Superintendent of Public Buildings informed the Common Council as to what articles were deposited in a box placed inside the head of the Lion. So, we look forward not only to the restoration of the Lion and the Unicorn, but, as with that process of historic restoration often yielding surprising discoveries, to a search for that box!
First appeared in On King Street, The Official Blog of the Bostonian Society, July 2014. Guest author Donald J. Tellalian, AIA, founding Principal of Tellalian Associates Architects & Planners, LLC has led the preservation projects at the Old State House with the Bostonian Society since 2005.
Old State House - History
Hartford County, Main Street at Central Row, Hartford.
Ownership and Administration. City of Hartford.
Significance. Standing among modern office buildings in downtown Hartford, the Old State House is a link with history. The first of numerous public buildings designed by Charles Bulfinch, it is today one of the most carefully restored civic structures of the Federal period. While it served as State Capitol between 1796 and 1879, it was the meeting place of the Hartford Convention, at which some New England States expressed opposition to the War of 1812. From 1879, when a new State Capitol building was completed, until 1915, the Old State House was used as the Hartford City Hall.
Authorized in 1792 by the Connecticut General Assembly, the Old State House was not completed until 1796 because of financial difficulties. Although its excellent proportions and design are typical of the work of Bulfinch, his association with the building was not as intimate as with some of his other structures. It therefore reflects not only his genius, but the skills and talents of local artisans as well. The artist John Trumbull supervised construction. By 1918, when the city of Hartford began a major restoration of the building, the foundations and outer walls were discovered to be in excellent condition, but the wooden beams were replaced with steel ones and steel trusses were added in the roof and cupola.
|Designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1796, the Old State House, Connecticut, is an excellent example of Federal-style architecture. It was the meeting place of the Hartford Convention, which opposed U.S. policies during the War of 1812.|
Between December 15, 1814, and January 5, 1815, the Hartford Convention met in the Old State House. Called by the Massachusetts Legislature, the immediate result of a dispute between the U.S. Secretary of War and New England Governors over control of New England State militia, the convention was an expression of New England Federalist opposition to the War of 1812 and to Democratic-Republican control of the National Government. Twenty-six delegates attended, sent by the legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island and scattered Vermont and New Hampshire counties. In the secret debates of the convention, a minority group favored New England's secession from the United States, but the less extreme majority prevailed. The convention adjourned in January 1815 and forwarded a number of resolutions to the New England legislatures urging them to assert themselves against Federal encroachments on the rights of the States. The convention also sent three representatives to Washington bearing proposed constitutional amendments to limit Southern political influence and restrict Federal Government controls. The proposed amendments came to nothing. New England's protests were forgotten with the news of Jackson's victory at New Orleans and the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
Present Appearance. The Old State House, open to the public as a historic building, measures 120 by 50 feet. The first story is constructed of Portland (Connecticut) freestone, 3 feet thick the upper story, 2 feet thick, is built of brick, in Flemish bond. The 40-foot wide porticoes on the east and west sides formerly opened into the central corridor, which has since been walled in and doors and windows added the white-columned portico on the east is one of the building's major architectural features. The balustrade and cupola, though added in 1815 and 1822 respectively, were both probably specified in Bulfinch's original design. In the interior, the staircase that rises on either side of the central corridor, and which has been restored to its original design, has elaborately turned balusters. The Secretary of State's office is situated on the landing. On the first floor are located the Superior Court Chamber, now considerably altered, and executive offices. On the second floor, which best reveals the original design, are the Senate and House Chambers.