While admiring the building you might notice that the dome on top of the building is made of copper, not black slate, which does not match the French Second Empire style.
It turns out it used to be black slate. Then sometime in the 1920's, it changed from slate to copper.
If you have ever come to visit us here at Old City Hall, one thing you got to admire is the Old City Hall building. From its granite pillars to its square shaped dome, you have got to admire that French Second Empire style.
However, there is no written record of this happening, but there is photographic evidence of the change. Without written record of the change we don't know why someone would want to change the historical integrity of building.
If you came to visit us at Old City Hall this summer, you probably noticed this sculpture standing perfectly in the shade. Today's blog post is about him, Josiah Quincy III.
Josiah Quincy III was born on February 4, 1772. He was the son of Josiah Quincy II, a politically active lawyer and patriot. From 1805 to 1813, he was elected to the U.S House of Representatives from Massachusetts. He was part of the minority Federalist Party. During his time there, he attempted to exempt fishing vessels from the Embargo Act, urged the strengthening of the Navy, and vigorously opposed admittance of Louisiana as a state. In 1823, he became 2nd Mayor of Boston under a city charter (the city was settled in 1630). During his time as mayor he organized the construction of Quincy Market, it is named in his honor. He later became president of Harvard University in 1829. He died July 1, 1864.
Since Ben is over in Watertown getting cleaned and treated, we have had more time to appreciate the pedestal Ben had been standing on before he fell. This pedestal captures the important stages of Ben Franklin's life. These events not only had a significant affect on Ben's life, but on the country as well.
Franklin became apprenticed in the Boston printing shop belonging to his brother James at the age of twelve. When he was seventeen he went to Philadelphia and by 1730,at the age of 24, he had set up his own printing business and newspaper, which gave him a forum for political expression. This led to his involvement in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1776, Benjamin Franklin was appointed to the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. The committee also included Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and John Adams. After several drafts, Congress finally approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It was signed on August 2, 1776, and contained the signatures of 55 representatives of the 13 colonies, including Ben Franklin's.
The "Treaty of Peace and Independence" refers to the Treaty of Paris signed on September 3, 1783, which marked the end of the American Revolutionary War. Ben Franklin was there as one of the representatives for the U.S.
ERIPUIT CAELO FULMEN SCEPTRUNQUE TYRANNIS
This Latin phrase translates to:
He snatched the thunderbolt from heaven and the scepter from tyrants.
This refers to the famous experiment where Ben Franklin tied a key to the string of a kite and flew it during a thunderstorm. This proved his observation of electricity and lighting being the same to be correct.
While our Ben is recovering at the Daedulus Studio in Watertown, we decided to honor him with a post not just simply about him, but of Benjamin Franklin sculptures from across the U.S. For example, Benjamin Franklin in Washington D.C and on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
First let's talk about our good old Ben. This statue of Ben on the left was sculpted by Richard Greenough and presented 1856. Greenough understood that Bostonians wanted to honor him because he was born in Boston, he was thoughtful, dignified, kind, and selfless. The material used to create the sculpture was bronze, not marble and so he can share in our New England weather.
Above, center, is the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was sculpted by James Earle Fraser and presented 1938. It weighs 27 tons and rest on a pedestal that is 83 tons. The material used is Seravezza marble and it honors Ben Franklin as a founding father. It became a U.S National Memorial on October 25, 1972.
Last, and to the right, is the Benjamin Franklin statue found in front of College Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Having been born in Boston, Franklin moved to and lived most of his adult life in Philadelphia. Being a trustee and founder of this IVY League institution, the bronze statue conveys Benjamin Franklin as the inventor, and scientist. It was sculpted by John J. Boyle.
We had the opportunity to visit our dear old Ben at the Daedalus studios in Watertown. Seeing him in person at ground level was a very unique experience - the scale and breadth of detail in the sculpture are amazing to see close up. Greenough’s capturing of Ben’s essence is remarkable, from the detail along the flaps of his jacket pockets to the just so crook of his neck. We will be glad when we have him back home so we can admire him once again on a daily basis.
In the meantime, he has been fully cleaned and stripped of old wax treatments, making him ready to be patinated and restored. Our friend Josh at Daedalus is sampling different gradients of patina in the effort to find the most appropriate and appealing look.
At the same time he is working on repairing and filling any voids and spots where the original casting has worn. After the repairs are made and the patina is applied, Ben will be coated with protective wax and sealant to protect him against the elements of our lovely New England climate.
Once he is returned to his perch here at Old City Hall in early Fall, he will go back to his regular maintenance schedule to keep him looking sharp.
Our conservators at Daedalus have been hard at work since our dear Ben Franklin statue made its way to their studios in Watertown. Ben has had a careful and thorough examination and thankfully it been confirmed that he remains structurally sound. He has a few bumps and scratches which can be easily repaired as part of the full restoration that he going to undergo while he is at Daedalus. Here is a photo of Ben’s hairline which suffered a scrape and a bit of adhered concrete but otherwise is fine.
Same with the back of his coat.
Ben is now looking forward to a full cleaning and repatination. We will keep you posted on his progress!
On Sunday May 15 Ben Franklin’s statue lost a round with Mother Nature when a very blustery gust of wind and a party tent conspired to knock him off of his base- which has been his home without event for over 150 years. Thankfully no one was injured during the fall, Ben himself included, but he will be transported to Daedulus, a conservator in Watertown for careful inspection just to be sure. While he is at Daedalus, Ben will be also be cleaned and refinished, and the base will be repaired in anticipation of his return. In addition, the four cast Bas Reliefs at the base will be treated to a cleaning and refinishing. We’ll be working closely with the City of Boston Department Arts and Culture and other city agencies to ensure the proper treatment of this early and important public art resource. We look forward to welcoming Ben back in the near future.
With the dig now over, Boston Magazine published a follow up article that recaps what Joe and his team found. Below is the article, published on July 6th, 2015 by Chris Sweeney.
A few weeks ago, we told you about city archaeologist Joe Bagley and his quest to unearth an untold chapter of Boston Latin School’s storied history. Bagley and his team of volunteers and interns spent most of June excavating a small site on the grounds of Old City Hall.
Now that the dig is over, we reached out to Bagley via email to learn what the project revealed and to find out what’s next for the City Archaeology Lab this summer.
Was the dig a success?
Absolutely! We were able to identify the foundation of the 1645/1701 Schoolmaster’s house, as well as a collapsed brick chimney, a cellar hole, and associated artifacts.
Can you give a brief overview of what you and your team unearthed?
We found three sides of the Schoolmaster’s house, which were located in the right (eastern) half of the now-open space of the courtyard and extends toward the east 40 feet. Essentially it took up most of the right half of the courtyard.
On the western portion, we were able to identify the foundation of an 1810 barrister’s hall built by John Lowell. Just outside the barrister’s hall, we found some original soils of Boston dating back to the 17th century complete with 17th century artifacts, including a Dutch ointment jar. We were then able to excavate through the soils into the glacial subsoil covering nearly 10,000 years of Boston’s history. We did not find any Native American artifacts in this deposit, though.
When we first spoke, you were eager to find the privy, or the old-school outhouse. Any luck on that front?
Sadly, we did not find a privy, and disturbances to the rear of the courtyard and the presence of a large statue may make finding it impossible in the future. But we may be able to do more testing on the foundations of the buildings we found in the future.
Did you guys get nailed with any of the early summer storms that rolled through?
We only had to call off the dig once for threat of thunderstorms, which never materialized. But when it rained, we got very, very wet. We did hit a few layers dense with mortar or clay that became a toothpaste-like consistency in the rain. Needless to say, that was not fun when it came to getting the dirt through our screens or seeing the artifacts in the mud. It slowed us down, but it did not stop us.
As the city’s archaeologist, what’s the most interesting takeaway from the project?
The most interesting takeaway was a combination of the relative intactness of the foundations for the buildings we encountered and the reaction of the public to us finding them. We expected enthusiasm, but people were much more excited about what we were doing than I expected.
Did you get any funny questions or comments from tourists passing by as part of Freedom Trail tours?
By the end of the dig, we were mentioning how relieved we would be to not have to answer, “Did you find anything interesting?” about 100 times a day. Most of the jokes we heard involved Jimmy Hoffa, lost contact lenses, gold, and Whitey Bulger. To me, the funniest thing was how surprised everyone seemed when we said “yes” to “Did you find anything interesting?” It’s a large hole in downtown Boston—of course we found something interesting!
What happens next with the artifacts you’ve dug up and the site itself?
Everything is at the City Archaeology Lab in West Roxbury waiting for us to finish with our other digs. Once we are done, we will all head back to the lab to process the collections.
Between now and next spring, we will wash, sort, and catalog the artifacts. Then I will be writing a very detailed report summarizing the dig, our findings, and the new history we revealed on the property.
What else is the City Archaeology Lab getting into this summer?
We will be starting a survey of the Industrial School for Girls in Dorchester (232 Centre St.), where we will be looking for artifacts, and hopefully a privy, left behind by the girls who went to the school between when it opened in 1859 and when they got indoor bathrooms around 1880.
The girls were brought from troubled homes and trained in traditional Victorian women’s tasks. They were all between six and 15 years old, and many were rebellious. I’m hoping to find a combination of high-end Victorian goods brought in to train the girls on (tea sets, sewing items, etc.) coupled with objects of rebellion kept hidden from their overseers (alcohol, tobacco pipes, etc.).
1645: Thomas Scottow sells property to City of Boston
1645: Boston constructs first purpose-built school house on western portion of the yard
1645-1653: Boston builds & uses building to house the Schoolmaster and his family
1653: Richard Cooke builds "Stone Mansion" between Free School and Schoolmaster's House
1701: Boston re-builds Schoolmaster's house on top of foundation of first schoolhouse
1704: Boston expands Schoolhouse on same location of first schoolhouse
1748: Western portion of schoolhouse property purchased by King's Chapel to expand church- Schoolhouse demolished, tombs built behind King's Chapel, school opens across the street
1748-1774: Cooke and Saltonstall families live in Stone Mansion
1774: Saltonstalls flee (Tories), General Frederick Haldimand stationed in Stone Mansion
1795: Stone Mansion property sold to John Lowell, demolished to build Barrister's Hall
1809: Schoolmaster's house demolished, property left vacant/passive recreation
1820: Asa Richardson's grocery store built on School Street next to Barrister's Hall- Boston Latin students hand out at Grocery waiting for school to open across street
1839: Grocery store and Barrister's Hall demolished, entire yard is open space