Faneuil Hall is known the world over for its marketplace filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment - visitors and locals alike have been gathering here for well over two centuries.
One of the most interesting aspects of the actual building has been greeting people --- and at one time whole fleets of ships for centuries as a golden symbol of history, community and commerce.
The Grasshopper Weathervane.
Built in 1742, the North End’s own Shem Drowne was responsible for its construction. Drowne was one of Boston’s most noted innovators at the time: operating as both a coppersmith as well as the city’s first tinsmith. His work with weathervanes, instruments used to show which way the wind is blowing, produced several pieces starting around 1716.
For example Drowne designed a weathervane for the Royal Governor’s House, another for The New Brick Church on Hanover Street (now perching on top of First Church in Cambridge and created the copper swallowtail banner for The Old North Church.
When it comes to our esteemed grasshopper however, gilded and glass-eyed, it weighs thirty eight pounds and is made of copper. It’s a rather clever reference to its cousin across the pond that adorns the Royal Exchange Building in London. Having seen its fair share of famous events, it’s also featured in (and is filled with) many interesting surprises – including the newspaper snippets, coins, and other articles of historical significance placed inside this makeshift time capsule.
In 1755 a earthquake struck Boston, damaging the grasshopper and severing one of its legs. It “reported” the details with quite a bit of journalistic flair:
To my brethren and fellow grasshoppers, Fell in ye year 1753 (1755) Nov. 13, early in ye morning by a great earthquake by my old Master above. Again, like to have met with Utter Ruin by Fire, by hopping Timely from my Public Station, came of the broken bones and much Bruised. Cured and Fixed. Old Master’s son Thomas Drowne June 28, 1768, and Though I will promise to Discharge my office, yet I shall vary as ye wind.
In 1976, the grasshopper experienced another shock when it was stolen – but was fortunately later recovered due to the detective work of Paul Carroll, who happened to be a direct descendant of Paul Revere.
So the next time you’re out and about around Faneuil Hall – sampling some clam chowder from Quincy Market, taking photos with the statue of Red Auerbach, or simply taking in the sights and sounds – make sure you look up and say hello to this jolly old fellow.
Faneuil Hall is located in Downtown Boston and on the cusp of the Financial District It is a quick walk to the Waterfront and North End Neighborhoods which are filled with great architecture and fascinating history.
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Broad Street Boutique Realty is a real estate firm located in Boston, Massachusetts. We represent clients in the sale, purchase or lease of properties in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Visit us at www.broadboutique.com