Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Faneuil, Peter

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Appletons' Faneuil Peter - market-house.jpg

FANEUIL, Peter, merchant, b. in New Rochelle, N. Y., in 1700; d. in Boston. Mass., 3 March, 1743. His parents were French Huguenots. He became a merchant in Boston, and in 1740, after the project of erecting a public market-house in that city had been discussed for some years, he offered, at a public meeting, to build a suitable edifice at his own cost as a gift to the town; but so strong was the opposition to market-houses that, although a vote of thanks was passed unanimously, the offer was accepted by a majority of only seven. The building was begun in Dock square in September of the same year, and finished in two years. It comprised a market-house on the ground floor, and a town-hall, with other rooms, over it. In 1761 it was destroyed by fire, nothing but the brick walls remaining. It was rebuilt by the town in 1763, and in 1775, during the British occupation of Boston, it was used for a theatre. In 1805 it was enlarged by the addition of another story, and increased forty feet in width. The large hall is about eighty feet square, and contains many fine paintings of distinguished men. During the Revolutionary period it was the usual meeting-place of the patriots, and, from the stirring debates and important resolutions that were often heard within its walls, it gained the name of “the cradle of American liberty.” (See illustration.)