History

For more than 120 years, Boston’s leaders have met in this historic area of the city. It was home to Boston’s first public school attended by Ben Franklin, John Handcock, and Samuel Adams, and it served as City Hall for 38 mayors, including John Fitzgerald and James Curley. It has since been converted into a first class office building occupied by more than 20 of Boston’s leading businesses. We invite you to learn more about Old City Hall’s history and how it has become a must-see destination for tourists and locals alike.

History and Fun Facts About Old City Hall

The Boston Latin School – 1635

The Boston Latin School (1635), Boston’s first public school and the oldest educational institution in the country, stood here first. Some notable figures in history who attended this school include Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.

The Suffolk County Courthouse -1810

In 1810, the Suffolk County Courthouse, designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch, was erected here. Remodeled by Gridlet J. F. Bryant and Arthur Gilman, it served as Boston’s 2nd City Hall from 1841 until the governing body outgrew the space in 1862.

Third City Hall - 1865

In 1865, Boston’s 2nd city hall was replaced by a third, which is the building you see today on School Street.

30 Mayors from 1865 -1969

Thirty mayors served in the existing building when it served as city hall from 1865 to 1969. Eight others served their terms as mayors on the site from 1841-1865 after Suffolk County Courthouse was converted to a temporary city hall.

1969-1971 - Conversion of Old City Hall

Old City Hall is one of the first examples of adaptive reuse. In the 1960’s the concept of recycling outdated public buildings was untried. The successful conversion (1969-1971) of Boston’s City Hall into a restaurant and first class office building heralded the beginning of this new concept. It was widely publicized by the American Institute of Architects and became a model of successful redevelopment for underutilized municipal property.

Today's Old City Hall

Each year, Old City Hall’s courtyard hosts more than 500,000 visitors.

Art at Old City Hall

There are numerous works of art both within and outside Old City Hall, including the bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin, which was the first portrait statue to be erected in Boston (1856). It also features a mosaic shaped like a hopscotch (City Carpet, 1983) that marks the original site of the Boston Latin School.

The Boston Latin School – 1635

The Boston Latin School (1635), Boston’s first public school and the oldest educational institution in the country, stood here first. Some notable figures in history who attended this school include Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.

The Suffolk County Courthouse -1810

In 1810, the Suffolk County Courthouse, designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch, was erected here. Remodeled by Gridlet J. F. Bryant and Arthur Gilman, it served as Boston’s 2nd City Hall from 1841 until the governing body outgrew the space in 1862.

Third City Hall - 1865

In 1865, Boston’s 2nd city hall was replaced by a third, which is the building you see today on School Street.

30 Mayors from 1865 -1969

Thirty mayors served in the existing building when it served as city hall from 1865 to 1969. Eight others served their terms as mayors on the site from 1841-1865 after Suffolk County Courthouse was converted to a temporary city hall.

1969-1971 - Conversion of Old City Hall

Old City Hall is one of the first examples of adaptive reuse. In the 1960’s the concept of recycling outdated public buildings was untried. The successful conversion (1969-1971) of Boston’s City Hall into a restaurant and first class office building heralded the beginning of this new concept. It was widely publicized by the American Institute of Architects and became a model of successful redevelopment for underutilized municipal property.

Today's Old City Hall

Each year, Old City Hall’s courtyard hosts more than 500,000 visitors.

Art at Old City Hall

There are numerous works of art both within and outside Old City Hall, including the bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin, which was the first portrait statue to be erected in Boston (1856). It also features a mosaic shaped like a hopscotch (City Carpet, 1983) that marks the original site of the Boston Latin School.

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