Old City Hall
Built in the midst of the Civil War and completed in 1865, this building replaced the existing city hall and served as the seat of government for the city of Boston until 1969. The former city hall was constructed in 1810, and was originally built as the Suffolk County Courthouse. In 1969, Boston built its current city hall and moved its offices from this location to present facility. The building now holds a variety of tenants, including the Architectural Heritage Foundation and the Boston Preservation Alliance. The building became a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Backstory and Context
The site at 45 School Street has been the home of two of Boston’s City Halls. In 1841, the Suffolk County Courthouse (built on the site in 1810) was converted into the second City Hall. That building was demolished during the American Civil War and construction began on the third City Hall. Boston’s third City Hall was completed in 1865 and was the seat of local government until 1969, when the current building was erected.
Thirty-eight mayors served their terms at the time; thirty of them in the building that still stands there today. Currently, this structure is leased out to private businesses.
On the site, there are several different political markers of interest to visitors. The first is the donkey, the symbol of the Democratic party. The donkey is made of bronze. It stands in front of the building on the Freedom Trail.
After the bronze donkey statue was placed in 1998, people began to ask for an opposing elephant, the representation of the Republican party. A marker was placed in the courtyard in 2001. It shows a pair of footprints with the picture of an elephant in each. The inscription below the feet reads “Stand in Opposition.”
There are also statues of two men important to the political history of Boston: Benjamin Franklin and Josiah Quincy. Franklin is well-known in American history as an inventor and a politician. He was born in Boston in 1706 and attended school here. Quincy was mayor of the City from 1823-1828. The second mayor is best known for his role in the development of Quincy Market.
Old City Hall History. Old City Hall. Accessed February 05, 2017. http://www.oldcityhall.com/history.html.