Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The First Beacon on Beacon Hill

Earlier in the year the State Library received the program for the swearing in of the Senate members from the Office of the Senate President.

Besides the names of the Senators for the 2011-2012 session, it has pictures and descriptions of the Senate President's suite and the Coolidge Room, which had previously been the Senate President's office with a desk Calvin Coolidge used from 1914-1915. All Massachusetts Senate Presidents were located there from 1897-1970. Photographs reveal the grandeur of the room.

This Librarian's favorite section in the small publication is the History of Beacon Hill and its beacon. There were three hills that made up the area. This is how Tremont Street or trimountain, a hill with 3 peaks, got its name. Boston was also once called Trimountain. One hill was called West Hill, Copley Hill or Mt. Vernon Hill depending on the time period. Another hill was Cotton or Pemberton Hill. The third was Beacon Hill because it had a beacon to warn of attacks.

The first beacon on Beacon Hill was a mast with an iron frame erected in 1634-1635. It was 65 feet high holding a barrel of tar and was used to alert the country of invasion. The structure was located near the State House on the south-east corner of the reservoir on Temple Street. Winds blew down the beacon in 1789. A Revolutionary War monument with an eagle on top was put in its place. This is the beacon that is currently in back of the State House in Ashburton Park.

Naomi Allen

Reference Librarian