Old State House Museum
Also known as Boston's 'Towne House', the Old State House dates back to 1713. It was the center of all political life and debate in colonial Boston.
On July 18, 1776, citizens gathered in the street to hear the Declaration of Independence read from the building's balcony, the first public reading in Massachusetts. The Royal Governor presided here until the new State House was built on Beacon Hill in 1798.
The Boston Massacre occurred beneath the balcony, where the Declaration of Independence later would be read for the first time to the citizens of Boston, an event reenacted each July 4. The massacre site is marked by a cobblestone mosaic in the sidewalk.
The building underwent a dozen incarnations after independence, housing the Supreme Judicial Court, then City Hall, a lodge of Masons and commercial stores.
By 1875, officials planned to tear it down, but when the city of Chicago volunteered to buy the structure, irate Bostonians raised money to restore it in one of the first examples of historic preservation. Today, the building is run by The Bostonian Society as a museum commemorating Boston bloodshed in the American Revolution.
The Old State House remains the city's oldest public building, though it was renovated by an architect who used the wrong plans and put a spiral staircase where the assembly chamber was supposed to be. There were other indignities.
In 1903, the historic edifice was unceremoniously elevated to make room for the subway. One of its most interesting exhibits is a noise gauge that registers the rumble of the trains beneath.
Also inside, visitors can view displays of everything from corset hardware to ship models, including a vial of tea from The Boston Tea Party.
View Calendar of Events.
Guided tours are available with the purchase of admission.
There are many interesting museums to visit in Boston - peruse our Boston Museums guide to find out which one you should visit next.
Labor Day - Memoral Day (including January) are 9am to 5pm.
Summer hours after memorial day are 9am to 6pm, not just July and August.
Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
Gallery tours are offered on the hour throughout the day.
Adult admission: $10
Student/Senior admission: $8.50
Children 18 and under are free.
206 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02109-1702 map
- Guided tours of this Freedom Trail stop are available by reservation only
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