Boston is one of the only American cities where a building whose cornerstone was laid in 1795 (by Gov. Samuel Adams) can be the “new” anything. Nevertheless, this is the new State House, as opposed to the Old State House . The great Federal-era architect Charles Bulfinch designed the central building of the state capitol, and in 1802 copper sheathing manufactured by Paul Revere replaced the shingles on the landmark dome. Gold leaf now covers the dome; during World War II blackouts, it was painted black. The state legislature, or Massachusetts General Court, meets here. The House of Representatives congregates under a wooden fish, the Sacred Cod, as a reminder of the importance of fishing to the local economy. Take a self-guided tour, or call ahead to schedule a conducted tour.
Whether or not you go inside, be sure to study some of the many statues outside. The subjects include Mary Dyer, a Quaker hanged on the Common in 1660 for refusing to abandon her religious beliefs, and Pres. John F. Kennedy. The 60-foot monument at the rear (off Bowdoin St.) illustrates Beacon Hill’s original height, before the top was hacked off to use in 19th-century landfill projects.
To continue on the Freedom Trail: Walk down Park Street (which Bulfinch laid out in 1804) to Tremont Street.