Opened upon the inauguration of the State House in January 1798, Doric Hall was designed by Charles Bulfinch, architect of the State House, to serve as the main public reception area in the new capitol. Ten Doric columns distinguish the fifty-five square foot room that overlooks Beacon Street from under the gold dome. This has been the setting for some of the most historic events to take place at the State House, including presidential visits, the issuing of flags to Massachusetts troops heading off to war, and wakes for the highest public servants. By tradition, the famous center doors are opened on three occasions: the visit of a head of state or high-ranking foreign dignitary, the return of military colors for decoration or investment into the State House Battle Flag Collection, or the departure of governors at the end of their terms, when the ""long walk"" is taken from the executive office out of the building. The hall is still a central gathering place for visitors and marks the first stop on a tour of the historic State House.
Doric Hall is decorated with a wide range of artwork and memorials to those who have made lasting contributions to the Commonwealth and nation. Two- and three-dimensional sculptures, paintings, and historical artifacts are installed throughout the room.