Franklin Family Monument

David Davies

Weymouth, Canada

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Artist's Description

The Franklin Family Monument in the Granary Burying Ground.

(Wikipedia) Founded in 1660, the Granary Burying Ground in Massachusetts is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery is adjacent to Park Street Church and immediately across from Suffolk University Law School.

The cemetery’s Egyptian revival gate and fence were designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers (1810-1849), who designed an identical gate for Newport’s Touro Cemetery.

The Burying Ground was the third cemetery established in the city of Boston and dates to the year 1660. The need for the site arose because the land set aside for the city’s first cemetery, King’s Chapel Burying Ground located a block east was insufficient to meet the city’s growing population. Early in its existence the area was known as the South Burying Ground until 1737 at which point it took on the name of the granary building which formerly stood on the site of what is now the Park Street Church. In May 1830 trees were planted in the area and an attempt was made to change the name to “Franklin Cemetery” to honor the family of Benjamin Franklin, but the effort failed.

The Burying Ground was originally part of the Boston Common which then encompassed the entire block, but two years after the cemetery was established the southwest portion of the block was taken for public buildings, which included the Granary and a house of correction and the north portion of the block was used for housing.

Tombs were initially placed near the back of the property and on 15 May 1717 a vote was passed by the town to enlarge the Burying Ground by taking part of the highway on the eastern side, (now Tremont Street). The enlargement was carried out in 1720 when 15 tombs were created and assigned to a number of Boston families.

One of the most striking features of the Burying Ground was the row of eleven large European elms, (now gone) that fronted it on Tremont Street. The elms were planted in1762 by Major Adino Paddock and John Ballard, and by 1856 reached ten feet in circumference. The walk under the elms was known as “Paddock’s Mall.” Ironically while the entrance was shaded by the large elms, the grounds itself were devoid of any trees at all until the first major improvement was undertaken in 1830 when a number of trees were planted around the grounds. The property was improved again in 1840 by the construction of an iron fence on Tremont Street designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers at a cost of $5,000, half paid by the city and half by public subscription. Rogers designed an identical Egyptian revival gateway for Newport’s Touro Cemetery.

In January 2009 a previously unknown crypt was discovered when a tourist on a self-guided tour through the cemetery fell through the ground into what appeared to be a stairway leading to a crypt. The stairway had been covered with a piece of slate which eventually gave way due to advanced age. The tourist was not hurt nor did she come into contact with any human remains. The crypt is reported to be 8 by 12 feet in size and is structurally intact. The crypt is possibly the resting place of Jonathan Armitage, a Boston selectman from 1732 to 1733.

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