It's been in storage for more than 20 years, but the historic 12-panel, 280-year-old door that belonged to the first Massachusetts governor — and the author of a certain iconic signature on the Declaration of Independence — is finally going to reappear to the public next month.
John Hancock's front door is reemerging at Boston's Old State House as the centerpiece of a new Bostonian Society revitalization project: a re-creation of the original 1737 Hancock House entryway, complete with wallpaper and hand-carved brackets, wood columns, and timber frames.
"We hope to give people today a chance to encounter the Hancock Mansion Door for the first time in decades, and to transport them into the past," said Nathaniel Sheidley, executive director of the Bostonian Society, in a statement. "But we also hope to use the door as a metaphor to engage 21st-century audiences in thinking about the barriers that divide us, and the doors that we'd like to see opened in our communities that aren't open right now," Sheidley added.
The museum collaborated with the preservation carpentry program at the North Bennet Street School in the North End, where students hand-crafted the entire entryway out of pinewood, said Kevin Derrick, a spokesman for the school. "It's a great opportunity to learn hands-on in the field, but also to give back to the community," Derrick said.
The bulk of the entryway was assembled at the North End school, where the door was cleaned and refurbished after the Hancock mansion in Beacon Hill was torn down in 1863, according to a statement from the North Bennet Street School.
After the mansion was razed, many of its components were auctioned off or given away, and scattered throughout New England, the statement said.
"The mansion's demolition birthed the historic preservation movement in New England and gave rise to organizations like the Bostonian Society, which later went on to save Boston's Old State House from a similar fate," the statement said.
Project members are putting the finishing touches on the entryway exhibit at the Old State House this week, and the final project is scheduled to open to the public in June.
"It will detail … the Hancock Mansion's unique place as a catalyst for the preservation movement in America," the statement said.