Hall of Flags
On his last day in office, January 4, 1884 Governor Benjamin Butler
made the journey alone from the front door of the State House down the
front steps, thus establishing the tradition of the "Long Walk".
Since then, the middle doors of the State House are opened only to allow
a governor who is ending a term of office to depart, or a president of
the United States or a foreign head of state to enter. Typically the governor takes his long walk
Memorial Hall or The Hall of Flags is a special place where all of our Massachusetts soldiers are honored and remembered.
"The Return of the Colors," shown in Edward Simmons' mural on your right, depicts the return of the flags that Governor Andrew had given the Massachusetts regiments as they departed to fight in the Civil War. This ceremony, which took place December 22, 1865, started a significant tradition called Forefather's Day.
Flags have been returned after duty in every war since then including the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Berlin emergency, and the Vietnam War. This hall was built of beautiful Italian marble to appropriately display these flags.
If you take a close look you will see that these are transparencies of flags, not the actual flags. In 1987 the original flags were moved to environmentally controlled storage by textile conservators. There are over 400 flags in the State House collection. Presently a history and catalogue of the flags is being prepared. And once the State House renovations are completed it is expected that the flags will once again be displayed but on a rotating basis.
Edward Simmons depicted the Battle of Concord in the mural to your left. In front of you is Henry Walker's portrayal of the Mayflower Pilgrims as they first sighted land. Behind you is Walker's interpretation of John Eliot preaching to the Native Americans. Eliot learned the Algonquin dialect, translated the Bible for the Indians, and established fourteen villages of "praying" Indians.
The stained glass skylight above contains the seals of the original thirteen colonies of the United States. The Massachusetts seal is in the center.