J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Inevitable Growth of the Government

For pleasant sightseeing without worry about the weather, visit the Historic Buildings of Massachusetts blog’s colonial grouping. And there’s an even larger helping of colonial architecture from Historic Buildings of Connecticut.

Because those sites feature new photographs, the buildings look really good—but not necessarily as they did in the eighteenth century. The websites’ descriptions are very good at pointing out which buildings have been altered, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

So here’s an image of Faneuil Hall at the end of the 1700s, courtesy of Boston College professor Jeffrey Howe’s Digital Archive of American Architecture. It was built as a central market space (ground level) and hall for town meetings (one story up), and militia arms were often stored in the attic.

And here’s Faneuil Hall today, after a thorough expansion by Charles Bulfinch in 1806. The original three bays on the ends became seven, the original three stories grew into four, and the tower was shifted. Otherwise, it was the exact same building, yep.

I can imagine crusty Bostonians of that time grumbling about why everything has to change so fast. Or did they? Historic preservation is a relatively recent addition to our value system, and maybe people were just glad to have more space for town meetings out of the weather.

2 comments:

DS said...

And You can also check out my article on Colonial House architecture at Historic Buildings of Connecticut.

J. L. Bell said...

It took a little while, but I found the link. At least I think that’s the right link.