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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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Council Chamber at the Old State House, 28 Jan.

On Tuesday, 28 January, the Bostonian Society will unveil its makeover of the Old State House’s Council Chamber, where the Massachusetts Council considered legislation and met with the governor. This was considered the most opulent public space in colonial Boston and the center of imperial power in Massachusetts.

Working with craftspeople trained at the North Bennet Street School, the society has furnished the room as it appeared in 1764, when the building was still called the Town House and Britain’s North American empire was at its peak.

The event announcement explains:
Although the original Council Chamber table and chairs were lost or destroyed long ago, records kept by the colony have made it possible to identify in detail how the room was furnished and decorated. In several cases, the names of specific craftsmen are known and similar pieces by them survive in museums where they may be examined and then carefully reproduced. . . .

North Bennet Street School’s master faculty and alumni are expert in eighteenth-century cabinetmaking techniques. The results of this unique collaboration are now visible in the meticulous furniture reproductions on display in the Council Chamber at the Old State House.
The result includes “lavish, ruby-colored curtains, hand-crafted reproductions of the original furnishings and carefully selected pieces from the Bostonian Society’s collection of rare artifacts from the American Revolution.” There are paintings of kings on the walls. Visitors will be able to sit at the Council table and even in the Royal Governor’s chair.

The Bostonian Society invites the public to the official opening of this Council Chamber on Tuesday, 28 January, at 6:00 P.M. Launching a new exhibit titled “A British Town,” Prof. Jane Kamensky of Brandeis will speak about Boston’s happy place within the British Empire in the early 1760s.

The following weekend, 1-2 February, the Bostonian Society will offer programs for children and families, including special tours and scavenger hunts in the Council Chamber and throughout the Old State House.

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