Friday, July 19, 2013

Mustachioed Monuments Partie Cinq


Today I’ve been bandying about the internet, searching once more for mustaches that personify our Bostonian edifices. (Be forewarned, I have found a candidate for the Monopoly Man’s ‘stache, and am currently searching for the perfect pairing to Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy.) For this installment’s building, though, I have to conclude that nearly any mustache will do. First, however, some history:

Built in 1713 (I know, right?), Boston’s Old State House was the home of the British government in the colony.1 That makes this hotspot of the American Revolution a British building, at least originally. And the proof is in the pudding – take a look at the lion and unicorn (heralds of England and Scotland, respectively2) adorning the roof. On second thought, please don’t look at the animals in my drawing, as you may mistake the unicorn for a party-hat-wearing donkey and the lion for a faceless Chow Chow, neither of which is particularly regal (and neither of which was intentionally drawn that way).

On the Revolutionary side of things, the Old State House was the site of the Boston Massacre and where the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Beantown. Post war, the building was successfully transformed from a British state house to an American one.3 In comparison, Boston’s old city hall is now a steak house – no war necessary.

Alright, back to the mustaches. Because the American War for Independence was one of the first showings of weakness in the British Empire (and, really, can’t an entire ocean of travel count as one?), and since the mustache has been categorically tied to Britain’s military success… wait, you mean to tell me you haven’t heard this?


Yes, the mustache played a pivotal role in the continued control that the British Empire effected over a full 25% of the globe.4 This article by Piers Brendon, author of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire (2010, Vintage), sets the scene. At its most distilled, Brendan explains that multiple cultural clashes ultimately led to mustaches becoming a mandatory element of the British military uniform. First, British troops noted the intimidating effects of the mustaches worn by French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. And, second, during its colonization of India, the British army found that its strictly regimented, clean-shaven appearance came off a bit too boy band-ish. By the 1860s, mustaches had become mandatory.4

Since, in this case, any mustache will do, the Old State House sports a bristly, untrimmed walrus mustache.

Til next time!

P.S. As noted in a previous post, Assassin’s Creed III (yes, a video game) has a lot to say about historic Beantown. The game features a witty database that includes the following pearl about the Old State House: 1798 saw the building’s redesign for the merchant class, “including a wine seller and a wig-maker, making it the colonial equivalent of a shopping mall, though one that mainly dealt in wine and wigs.”5


1. "The Old State House." Old State House. The Boston Society, n.d. Web. 19 July 2013. <>.
2. "The Lion and the Unicorn." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 July 2013. Web. 19 July 2013. <>.
3. "The Old State House." Old State House. The Boston Society, n.d. Web. 19 July 2013. <>.
4. Brendon, Piers. "How the Moustache Won an Empire." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd., 11 Oct. 2007. Web. 19 July 2013. <>.
5. Ubisoft Montreal. Assassin's Creed III. Ubisoft, 2012. Xbox 360.

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