[gallery] Originally one of three peaks located in the western section of Boston, Beacon Hill was initially used for grazing and for military drills. As the residential areas surrounding the peaks became more crowded, a group known as the Mount Vernon Proprietors formed and purchased 19 acres of land, many from the painter John Singleton Copley, with the idea of creating a new, prestigious residential district. Construction began in 1799, and through the early to mid-1800s many of the buildings lining the hilly streets of Beacon Hill were constructed. As the house lots became more desirable and scarce, lots were subdivided and made into attached homes. The centerpiece of Beacon Hill is the Charles Bulfinch designed Massachusetts State House. The design was much admired across the United States, and made Bulfinch a major influence in early American architecture. One of the most prestigious addresses in Boston is in the block known as Louisburg Square. Located at the top of Mount Vernon Street in Beacon Hill, the houses on the Square surround a small, private park and feature brick houses with bow fronts. Famous residents of Beacon Hill in the 19th century included Charles Bulfinch, painter John Singleton Copley, and Louisa May Alcott. Current day Beacon Hill features a mix of stately townhouses, fashionable shops and tempting cafes.