The Gilded Grasshopper

faneuil hall, boston, 1830, black&white
Photo: Wickipedia
Does an 80 pound four foot long grasshopper fly? It sure does. More on that later.

This week's Sepia Saturday post shows Faneuil Hall in Boston. It's one of Boston's oldest buildings constructed in 1742. The upper hall has held many important gatherings throughout it's history including a fateful meeting about tea in 1773.

But what's this about a grasshopper? Look carefully at the weathervane above the cupola. The Gilded Grasshopper was created by the deacon Shem Drowne in 1742. Since then Faneuil Hall's grasshopper weathervane has been a lively rascal.
Faneuil Hall, cupola, Boston, gilded grasshopper, grasshopper
Photo: Doug Peabody
Why a grasshopper? Faneuil Hall was created as a marketplace. The London Exchange had six grasshopper weathervanes in honor of its founder Sir Thomas Gresham, whose family seal bore a grasshopper. When Peter Faneuil donated Faneuil Hall, he had been a member of the London Exchange, and made sure his hall had its own grasshopper. Since then the gilded grasshopper has been a symbol on the crest of the City of Boston.

The grasshopper started flying when it was blown off the building many times from storms. Each time it fell it was lovingly repaired by Deacon Drowne. In 1755 Boston was rocked by an earthquake which threw the grasshopper from Faneuil Hall. The deacon, then in his seventies, repaired it with his sons, but the grasshopper would continue to find its way to earth.

Faneuil Hall, cupola, Boston, gilded grasshopper, grasshopper
Photo: Doug Peabody
The freedom loving grasshopper fell to earth when the original Faneuil Hall was destroyed by fire in 1761. Once the hall was rebuilt, it would be knocked from its post by a flag being lowered. 

In 1974 and it would be stolen, leading to the discovery of a ring of weathervane thieves. It was recovered, repaired and replaced later that year.

Since then the bug hasn't left it's perch. Perhaps it has finally been grounded?

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