Gulesian had become a passionate student of U.S. history. To him, Old Ironsides was an icon, launched in Boston in 1797, built with the timbers of a Boston shipwright, gun carriages built in South Boston, sails made in Boston and copper bolts and spikes made by Paul Revere.
|USS Constitution, 1975.0006.010|
Publicity and controversy was also to emerge regarding the authorized copper fabrication of the Lion and Unicorn. Editors of The Boston Pilot condemned them as “relics of royalty” that patriots had burned in their opposition to British rule. Yet in 1882, the Common Council of Boston had those “emblems of royalty” replaced. The Pilot argued for their permanent removal.
In contrast, The Boston Transcript viewed the Lion and Unicorn as merely “orphaned emblems of British Sovereignty.” The Transcript’s position was that their replacement was appropriate to the “completion of the old building as an antiquity.” Despite the passion concerning another replacement, Gulesian’s new copper and gilt Lion and Unicorn were ultimately installed.
Although the golden Lion and silver Unicorn had been restored once since that time, their coats of gold leaf and aluminum have now been weathered away by nor’easter winds blowing through the urban canyon of State Street. Undergoing restoration this year, further discoveries may emerge. From old records left by the Superintendent of Public Buildings, a “box” was placed inside the head of the Lion in 1900 – its contents to be revealed this summer!
This article is written by guest author Donald J. Tellalian, AIA, founding Principal of Tellalian Associates Architects & Planners, LLC. He may be reached at email@example.com. Don has worked on preservation projects at the Old State House with the Bostonian Society since 2005.