Great Hall was constructed in 1990 within the original open-air light well of the nineteenth century extension to provide additional meeting and event space for the State House. Designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott, the original walls and windows were retained, and the new room capped by a sixty foot-long skylight in order to continue to bring light to the interior offices and hallways. Geometric floor patterns seen throughout the Brigham addition are echoed in Italian marble with a contemporary design and simplified color scheme. Below, two floors of hearing rooms were added to accommodate legislative committee business.
Great Hall is installed with a colorful display of flags from nearly every one of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Most flags measure four by six feet and are constructed of either nylon or cotton muslin. Many feature the official coat of arms of their municipalities, while others are decorated with charming illustrations of recognizable landscapes or architectural landmarks, or with historical or symbolic references to elements that set their towns or cities apart from others. Notable among the flags are those that were designed by local civic groups specifically for this project and handcrafted by gifted artists, quilters, and seamstresses.
The flags are arranged chronologically according to the date of incorporation (the last being in 1851), and citizens delight in finding the flag of their home town in the display and noting which towns date to the same period as theirs.