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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Monday, April 01, 2013

The Unicorn All Around the Town

The unicorn, already a rare species in modern New England, will get even harder to spot this fall.

A carved unicorn stood atop the east façade of Boston’s Town House, part of the royal arms. After the public reading of the Declaration of Independence on 18 July 1776, the crowd pulled down that pageantry and burned it.

Replicas of the unicorn and its leonine partner were reinstalled when that building, by then called the Old State House, was made into a museum in the late 1800s. (Folks are welcome to ponder the significance of elite Bostonians’ renewed fondness for British royal symbols in the urban America of that time.)

In October the unicorn will be taken down again to be refurbished. After work by Skylight Studios of Woburn, it will be regilded and re-palladiumed inside the museum before being sent back up to the roof.

This work will be supported by a gift from Boston Duck Tours, and celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Old State House building.

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