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Faneuil Hall September 6, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited Faneuil Hall in Boston. This three-story building features a marketplace, a town meeting hall and a museum for the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.

Here are two nuggets that I gleaned from my time at Faneuil Hall.

1. Like many colonial-era buildings, Faneuil Hall has undergone numerous alterations through the years. Perhaps the earliest modification entailed replacing its steeple with a cupola. The most significant changes occurred in the early 1800s, when the noted architect Charles Bulfinch was tasked with improving the building’s capacity to serve the growing population of Boston. In particular, Bulfinch designed a significant expansion of the second-floor meeting hall, yielding the present-day Great Hall.

2. During the construction of an elevator shaft, workers discovered an underground treasure trove of artifacts that dated back to the 1700s. It turns out that Faneuil Hall was actually constructed on a landfill, which was part of a larger effort to reshape Boston Harbor. The discovered artifacts included Chinese porcelain wares, pipes of English and Dutch origin, and even almonds and coconuts. From these artifacts, historians gained insights into early Bostonians’ eating habits and household possessions.

I was particularly impressed by the Great Hall, which contained several paintings and busts of famous colonial-era figures. The Great Hall was dominated by George Healy’s massive and awe-inspiring painting of Webster’s reply to Hayne.

In terms of quibbles, the museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts was closed for the day. It turns out that the museum is only open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday-Friday, except on holidays; this seems a bit restrictive to me.

Overall I would consider Faneuil Hall to be worthy of a short stopover before enjoying the sights and sounds of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

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