Just about everyone who lives in Boston has seen the iconic State House Building up close at one point or another. Located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood on Beacon Street, the building stands out for blocks in many directions.
But did you know what’s on top of the building’s famous golden dome? It turns out that it’s a golden pine cone. The pine cone symbolized the importance of the pine tree and Boston’s booming lumber industry during early colonial times – and Boston’s influence on the shipbuilding industry in the 1700s.
But the pine cone also honors the state of Maine, which was a district of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when the building was completed. So in fact, the Massachusetts State House iconic dome is a tribute to another state!
A pinecone is featured in the decoration of many Newport mansions and hangs from the arch over Atwells Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island as well. It was an important New England symbol of hospitality.
The dome itself was originally covered in copper by Paul Revere’s Revere Copper Company, but was repainted gray, and then light yellow, and finally in gold leaf. Then, during World War II, it was again painted dark to prevent the building from standing out during potential bombing attacks. Years later, it was repainted in 23K gold at a cost of $300,000.
Built in 1798, the entire building has been called one of the most historic government buildings in the world. And now you know a little bit more about it.