What Symbolizes Westfield For You?

The dome is gold again!

The scaffolding is down and all the new, 24 karat, Italian gold leaf has been applied, all $300,000 worth. So the State House is one step closer to being ready for its bicentennial celebration, which officially begins January 11, 1498, the 200th Anniversary of the day Governor Increase Sumner and the legislature moved in in 1798.

A lot less expensive are the public service announcements you'll soon see on television touting interesting sights and areas of the Commonwealth to commemorate the two century mark.

Each State Representative gets to record part of the announcement (watch for that familiar yellow jacket). That part wasn't difficult, thanks to cue cards included in the PSA.

Now comes the hard part. And I could use your help. Each district can provide a collection of photos, memorabilia and information to be included.

What would you like to see used to represent Montgomery or Westfield? Send me your ideas, your list of events or people from the past 200 years with ties to Westfield, and I'll take them to Boston.

Tell me about the history of our whip factories about General Shephard, the famous door in the Smithsonian, the big flood.

Tell me about the old burying ground, Governor Ely, the kidnapped Indian Maiden, the pure food movement.

And, if you have pictures, let me know, but please don't send them along yet.

Back to the renovations. As soon as the legislature adjourns -- about November 19 -- the House Chamber will be renewed. Murals will be restored, everything will be cleaned and repaired, even the clocks will be cleaned.

Underneath the dome, by the way, restoration is complete on the large, circular stained glass ceiling in the Hall of Flags. It depicts the seals of the 13 original colonies, with Massachusetts' seal at the center. The dozen smaller seals were repaired at a glass studio in Needham, and replaced last month. Just part of the $1.5 million in improvements to be finished in the next two months.

Of course the "sacred cod" will-stay. It's been in the State House since 1798 when it arrived, along with the state's archives, to be hung in the State House. It took awhile to get around to hanging it, however -- like 97 years.

It wasn't until March 7, 1895, that the Sergeant-at-Arms and a committee of 15 wrapped the fish in an American Flag, placed it on a bier borne by four messengers and delivered to the Speaker of the House.

It was repaired and painted, at a cost of a whole one hundred dollars, and, on May 6, 1985, was suspended in its present position at the front of the visitor's gallery.

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