BULFINCH, Charles

(b. Boston, 1763 – d. Boston, 1844)
Architect of the State House

By Herbert Adams, 1899

Bronze, 61 x 28 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.

Commissioned by the Commonwealth, installed December 13, 1899.

In 1785 the General Court began considering plans to construct a new state house for the Commonwealth. Charles Bulfinch, aged 24, home from study in London in 1787, submitted his design for a building before the location for the new capitol had even been finalized. When land at the top of Beacon Hill was acquired from the estate of John Hancock, his plan was accepted. By the time construction began in 1795, Bulfinch was a seasoned architect, having designed the Connecticut State House as well as numerous other buildings.

High above Boston, with its gold dome, the capitol, completed in 1798, could be seen from any vantage point. At the inauguration, it was declared to be "the most magnificent building in the Union" and quickly become a symbol of the new republic.

Bulfinch would go on to design dozens of civic, academic and religious buildings as well as private residences, many of them on Beacon Hill. Through this body of work he imposed a federal style on the city, effectively changing the architectural landscape. He was eventually appointed Architect of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in 1817, and was given charge of completing the construction of the capitol building.

This plaque was commissioned in 1898 to honor the architect on the capitol's 100th anniversary and his lengthy service as America's first native-born professional architect. A low-relief portrait of Bulfinch is adapted from a portrait painted by Mather Brown. A companion plaque is also installed in Doric Hall to commemorate the renovations undertaken to preserve the landmark building during the same year.

bust of BULFINCH, Charles