THE ARCHITECT: Hit and Run History on WGBH

Charles Bulfinch

The crew of Hit and Run History hits the Massachusetts State House to reveal the role its designer played in the Columbia Expedition. Charles Bulfinch grew up privileged in British-occupied Boston during the Revolution. On a walking tour amidst the architecture of Bulfinch's Boston, Duane Lucia of the West End Museum tells how the budding architect visited Paris and brought back a global trading scheme after breaking bread with Thomas Jefferson.

Andy's Note:  This background of this episode takes us to origin of this web series.  Last January, we got wind of a program called "

Charles Bulfinch: a virtual tour" in Boston.  So after hitting Boston Beer Works for dinner, Matt Griffin and I walked the few blocks over to the West End MuseumDuane Lucia gave what was essentially a walking tour of Bulfinch's Boston, the architect whose work is still in evidence two centuries later around the West End and Beacon Hill.  Afterwards we got to speak to Duane, tell him what we'd been doing with our full episodes of Hit and Run History, and how it connects in with Charles Bulfinch.

Hit and Run History at the West End Museum

We realized it would be great to film an interview with Duane talking about the background of Bulfinch and his role in the Columbia Expedition.  But staying true to our timeline in our series, we'd already left Boston and brought John Kendrick and the crews of Columbia and Lady Washington to Cape Verde and beyond.  To head backwards in time and place to cover Bulfinch would pull audiences out of the experience.

Hearing that we'd be holding screenings in the spring of our 2nd episode, Duane offered to hold one at the West End Museum.  Up to that point, our calendar only included venues in town that have awarded us Massachusetts Cultural Council grant (ten in all), but only on the Cape, South Coast and South Shore.  So we were really happy to put Boston on our schedule.

Matthew Griffin and Jay Sheehan of Hit and Run History

Jumping ahead to May, we were headed up to the screening at the West End Museum when I began to discuss ideas with Kyanna Sutton at WGBH.  She had attended our show at the South Shore Natural Science Center and had asked about a web series.  So while on the road, I pitched the idea of a series of short bios.  She asked that I write the up the concept and send it to her.  It was a good thing I brought my trusty MacBook Pro with me, because while sitting at the back of the screening at the West End Museum, I was punching out a two-page outline of the web series.

Jump ahead another month, and on our first day of production, Matt, Jay Sheehan and I are in the sub-basement of the State House, looking at original copies of the Massachusetts Centinel, Boston's newspaper in 1787.  Having done a college internship for the House of Representatives years ago, it is always fun showing off the building to others.  This time, though, we had a purpose.

Andrew Buckley of Hit and Run History and Duane Lucia of the West End Museum

Then following on, we were able to film that interview with Duane.  All it took was heading up the block to the Harrison Gray Otis House.  Designed by Bulfinch in 1796, it was the perfect setting for us to talk with Duane about the privileged kid from Boston who brought back from Thomas Jefferson's Paris salon the idea of a new global trade -- the genesis of the Columbia Expedition.  It was trying to rain most of the time, too, so the trees there gave us a little shelter.

Setting the whole episode to The Sun Shines by Boston band Sidewalk Driver really made it, too.

Watch online at wgbh.org/history. For more information on Hit and Run History following the story of John Kendrick and the Columbia Expedition visit hitandrunhistory.com.

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