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Faneuil Hall

WELCOME to Faneuil Hall

The Old North Church - BEST Massachusetts Places to PicnicFaneuil Hall located near the waterfront and today's Government Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742. 

It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great Britain, and is now part of Boston National Historical Park and a well known stop on the Freedom Trail. It is sometimes referred to as "the Cradle of Liberty".

History

The original Faneuil Hall was built by artist John Smibert in 1740�1742 in the style of an English country market, with an open ground floor and an assembly room above, and funded by a wealthy Boston merchant, Peter Faneuil. 

The ground floor was originally used to house African sheep brought over from the northwestern region of New Hampshire. The program was short lived however, due to a shortage of sheep and reasoning behind the program in the first place.

The grasshopper weather vane is a well known symbol of Boston; see the section "Grasshopper weather vane," below. Knowledge of the grasshopper was used as a test to determine if people were spies during the Revolution period. 

The people would ask suspected spies the identity of the object on the top of Faneuil Hall; if they answered correctly, then they were free; if not, they were convicted as British spies.

The hall burned down in 1761 but was rebuilt in 1762. In 1806, the hall was greatly expanded by Charles Bulfinch, doubling its height and width and adding a third floor. Four new bays were added, to make seven in all; the open arcades were enclosed, and the cupola was moved to the opposite end of the building. 

Bulfinch applied Doric brick pilasters to the lower two floors, with Ionic pilasters on the third floor. This renovation added galleries around the assembly hall and increased its height. The building was entirely rebuilt of noncombustible materials in 1898�1899. 

The ground floor and basement were altered in 1979. The Hall was restored again in 1992. The building is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Faneuil Hall is now part of a larger festival marketplace, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which includes three long granite buildings called North Market, Quincy Market, and South Market, and which now operates as an outdoor�indoor mall and food eatery. 

It was managed by The Rouse Company; its success in the late 1970s led to the emergence of similar marketplaces in other U.S. cities.

On November 3, 2004, Faneuil Hall was the site of Senator John Kerry's concession speech in the 2004 presidential election.

Faneuil Hall is also the headquarters of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts founded 1638.

Native Bostonians generally pronounce it to rhyme with manual, panel, or Daniel. There is some evidence that it was pronounced quite differently in Colonial times, as in funnel. 

Peter Faneuil's gravestone is marked "P. Funel," although the inscription was added long after his burial. The stone originally displayed only the Faneuil family crest, not his surname.

The bell was repaired in 2007 by spraying the frozen clapper with WD-40 over the course of a week and attaching a rope. The last known ringing of the bell with its clapper was at the end of World War II, in 1945; it has since been rung several times by striking with a mallet.

In 2008, Faneuil Hall was rated number 4 in America's 25 Most Visited Tourist Sites by Forbes Traveler.

Grasshopper weather vane

The gilded grasshopper weather vane on top of the building was created by silversmith Shem Drowne in 1742. Gilded with gold leaf the copper weather vane weighs eighty pounds and is four feet long. 

The weather vane is believed to be modeled after the grasshopper weather vane on the London Royal Exchange, based upon the family crest of Thomas Gresham. As strange as it seems, the weather vane was first, accidentally, brought and placed atop the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. 

After 3 months, designers realized that they had actually ordered a butterfly weather vane which was mistakenly shipped to Charlestown, SC. Six weeks later, order was restored as Faneuil Hall received its grasshopper, William and Mary got its butterfly, and Charlestown Town Hall was left with no weather vane at all.

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