The Fire of 1747
Fire! Fire! The Town House (now known as the Old State House) has endured many fires over the years. In fact, it was built in 1713 with a brick facade to replace the original wooden Town House, which burned to the ground in 1711.
On December 15, 1747 The Boston Gazette reported:
“At six in the morning the Watch in the east end of the Town House broke up, and between five and ten minutes after, the rays of the fire first discovered it in the said passage through the great window against it, by glancing into the Chambers of the houses on the north side of the Town House where two or three people were awake, and running to the windows first saw it there. But it quickly broke into the Council Chamber and run up the deal wainscot stairs into the loft and lanthorn above and set them all in a blaze.”
|MS0119/DC 352.52 - General Court orders |
payment for repairs of the Old State House, 1751
This devastating fire left the Town House destroyed with damages to the top two floors, roof, and the tower. Only the brick exterior walls remained untouched by the fire. Besides the physical damages, records indicate that the Province lost many items including Province records, books, portraits, and “a great Quantity of Wines and other Liquors.”
Massachusetts residents repaired the building in 1748 at a cost of about £3705, which was split between the Province, the County of Suffolk, and the Town of Boston. The rebuilding of the Town House saw changes to the exterior in the design of the tower and roof. In 1748, the former octagonal tower and gambrel roof was replaced with a pitched roof and a three-staged square tower, which is still present on the building today.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we post about the other two fires that devastated the Old State House.
By Deirdre Kutt, Education Associate