|Photo by Urban, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Of the egg that England laid,
Yes, so we can tell, tell, tell
On this humid Monday morning
In this congressional incubator,
And as just as Tom [Jefferson]
Here has written,
Though the egg may
Belong to Great Britain,
The eagle inside
Belongs to us!
— Sherman Edwards, "The Egg" from the Broadway musical 1776
How well did Boston crack the shell, architecturally? Did its colonial buildings follow in the footsteps of our forefathers, or flourish with the freedom of our founding fathers? Were they the eggshell of the old country, or the eagle of the new nation?
|Old State House, J. Marston, 1801.|
|Declaration of Independence Read in Boston, George Washington |
Bicentennial Commission, 1931-32. Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.
Nor did the Old State House's solid brick walls prevent its "eagles inside" from hatching. The freely elected Massachusetts Assembly were the originals, soaring as the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 when they circulated a letter to other colonies calling to meet to resist Britain's printed paper tax.
|James Otis Arguing Against the Writs of Assistance |
in the Old Towne House, Robert Reid, 1901.
|John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin Drafting the Massachusetts |
Constitution of 1780 (at Bowdoin's Braintree home), Albert Herter, 1942.
The golden egg
|Photo by Kevin Rutherford, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
The dome, landmarking the State House high on the hill as the center and seat of commonwealth government and "the Hub of the Solar System" in Oliver Wendell Holmes' words, wasn't always a gold star. It was originally wood painted a lead color, but its frequent leaks prompted Paul Revere & Sons to clad it in copper in 1802, which oxidized to such an unbecoming green that it was painted gold in 1861 before being gold-leafed for the first time in 1874.
|Photo from imagematters1's photostream on Flickr.com|
The State House's polychrome evolution prompted historian Walter Muir Whitehill to call it "a very odd fowl indeed, with a golden topknot, a red breast, white wings and a yellow tail."
Back to the egg
|Photo by Jan van der Crabben, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
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