WELCOME to Faneuil Hall
Hall located near the waterfront and
today's Government Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a
marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742.
It was the site of several speeches by Samuel
Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great
Britain, and is now part of Boston National Historical Park and a well
known stop on the Freedom Trail. It is sometimes referred to as
"the Cradle of Liberty".
The original Faneuil Hall was built by artist
John Smibert in 1740�1742 in the style of an English country market,
with an open ground floor and an assembly room above, and funded by a
wealthy Boston merchant, Peter Faneuil.
The ground floor was originally used to house
African sheep brought over from the northwestern region of New
Hampshire. The program was short lived however, due to a shortage of
sheep and reasoning behind the program in the first place.
The grasshopper weather vane is a well known
symbol of Boston; see the section "Grasshopper weather
vane," below. Knowledge of the grasshopper was used as a test to
determine if people were spies during the Revolution period.
The people would ask suspected spies the
identity of the object on the top of Faneuil Hall; if they answered
correctly, then they were free; if not, they were convicted as British
The hall burned down in 1761 but was rebuilt in
1762. In 1806, the hall was greatly expanded by Charles Bulfinch,
doubling its height and width and adding a third floor. Four new bays
were added, to make seven in all; the open arcades were enclosed, and
the cupola was moved to the opposite end of the building.
Bulfinch applied Doric brick pilasters to the
lower two floors, with Ionic pilasters on the third floor. This
renovation added galleries around the assembly hall and increased its
height. The building was entirely rebuilt of noncombustible materials
The ground floor and basement were altered in
1979. The Hall was restored again in 1992. The building is a National
Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Faneuil Hall is now part of a larger festival
marketplace, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which includes three long
granite buildings called North Market, Quincy Market, and South
Market, and which now operates as an outdoor�indoor mall and food
It was managed by The Rouse Company; its success
in the late 1970s led to the emergence of similar marketplaces in
other U.S. cities.
On November 3, 2004, Faneuil Hall was the site
of Senator John Kerry's concession speech in the 2004 presidential
Faneuil Hall is also the headquarters of the
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts founded 1638.
Native Bostonians generally pronounce it to
rhyme with manual, panel, or Daniel. There is
some evidence that it was pronounced quite differently in Colonial
times, as in funnel.
Peter Faneuil's gravestone is marked "P.
Funel," although the inscription was added long after his burial.
The stone originally displayed only the Faneuil family crest, not his
The bell was repaired in 2007 by spraying the
frozen clapper with WD-40 over the course of a week and attaching a
rope. The last known ringing of the bell with its clapper was at the
end of World War II, in 1945; it has since been rung several times by
striking with a mallet.
In 2008, Faneuil Hall was rated number 4 in
America's 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites by Forbes Traveler.
Grasshopper weather vane
The gilded grasshopper weather vane on top of
the building was created by silversmith Shem Drowne in 1742. Gilded
with gold leaf the copper weather vane weighs eighty pounds and is
four feet long.
The weather vane is believed to be modeled after
the grasshopper weather vane on the London Royal Exchange, based upon
the family crest of Thomas Gresham. As strange as it seems, the
weather vane was first, accidentally, brought and placed atop the Wren
Building at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg,
After 3 months, designers realized that they had
actually ordered a butterfly weather vane which was mistakenly shipped
to Charlestown, SC. Six weeks later, order was restored as Faneuil
Hall received its grasshopper, William and Mary got its butterfly, and
Charlestown Town Hall was left with no weather vane at all.
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