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The Bostonian Society to Restore Unicorn atop The Old State House


The Bostonian Society announced on March 18 that it is the recipient of a $14,000 gift from the Boston Duck Tours toward the restoration of the unicorn atop the historic Old State House building. Both symbols of the British monarchy, the lion and the unicorn adorning the historic building are two of the structure’s most recognizable features, with the lion symbolizing England and the unicorn Scotland.

Since 2005, The Bostonian Society has raised $3.7 million for the preservation and restoration of the 300 year old public building owned by the City of Boston.

According to a press release, the total costs to restore the historic unicorn is estimated at $45,000 and apart from the $14,000 gift from the Boston Duck Tours, The Bostonian Society has received additional funding from the City of Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund as well as private donors, but it is currently seeking an additional $10,000 to fully cover the costs of restoring this iconic symbol.

In typical (Boston) celebration fashion, both the unicorn and the lion were removed and burned in July 1776 during the nation’s celebration for independence, but were replaced 100 years later when The Bostonian Society was formed in 1881 to preserve and protect the Old State House from demolition.

Having been exposed to the intense winds of Downtown Boston over the years, the unicorn has suffered structural damage and has lost its once splendored and shiny surface.

Restoration is scheduled for October and the unicorn will be transported to Skylight Studios in Woburn during which among other restoration procedures, a new weather resistant silver-colored palladium leaf coat will be applied. Of course, what’s a unicorn without its most distinguishing feature, its horn? Both the horn and harness will also be highlighted with a new gold leaf coat.

After restoration, the unicorn will be on display inside the Old State House where visitors will get up close and personal with this revolutionary icon, learning first-hand about the restoration project.

About Author

Anulfo AKA The Evolving Critic is a preservationist and blogger with a strong interest in architectural history, urbanism, and the parallels between fashion and architecture. He holds degrees in Tourism Planning and Development from the University of New Hampshire and in the History of Art and Architecture from Boston University. Anulfo has written for the Boston Society of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He oversaw BR&S's blog, Our Daily Red, from 2012-14.

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