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Founded : 1660

Timings : 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Address : Tremont St., Boston, MA 02108, USA

Number of Graves : 2,345

Previous Name : South Burying Ground

Gate Architecture : Egyptian Revival

Prominent Figures Buried Here : Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, 5 Boston Massacre victims

Closest Landmark : Park Street Church

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Granary Burying Ground, Boston Overview

Situated next to Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street is one of the oldest cemeteries in Boston and was built in order to meet the city’s growing population after King’s Chapel Burying Ground ran out of space. The cemetery is where a lot of historical figures, including participants of the American Revolution were laid to rest.

Granary Burying Ground was built in the year 1660 and derives its name from a bushel grain storage building that used to be next to it. Previously known as South Burying Ground, the cemetery is one of the 16 sites on the Freedom Trail and has over 2,300 markers, some of which belong to American patriots like Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.

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A Brief History of Granary Burying Ground

Dating back to 1660, Granary Burying Ground happens to be the third oldest cemetery in the city and was built because King’s Chapel Burying Ground could no longer accommodate Boston’s increasing population. Until the 1730s, it was known as the South Burying Ground when it took up the name Granary Burying Ground from an adjacent building used to store grains.

It was formerly part of Boston Common and the tombs were placed towards the back; tombstones were used as an artistic expression of the afterlife since Puritan churches don’t believe in imagery or religious icons. In 1720, the Ground was finally enlarged, with about 15 tombs being created and assigned.

In 1762, 11 European elms were planted outside the ground on Tremont Street, and the walk under the trees came to be known as “Paddock’s Mall,” after the man who planted them. Moreover, the ground that was formerly barren, was lined with trees in 1830. In 1840, an iron fence on the street side and the famous Revival style gate were built by Isaiah Rogers, on both city and public funds.

Some of the Memorials Found at Granary Burying Ground

Besides being the location of over 2,300 markers and the burial site of perhaps over 5,000 people, Granary Burying Ground is also where one would find a few memorials, some of which are:
  • There is a 25-foot obelisk towards the center of the Ground erected in 1827 that is dedicated to Benjamin Franklin’s family; the Founding Father was born in Boston and was buried in Philadelphia. The structure is made of granite taken from the Bunker Hill Monument quarry and was made in order to replace the family’s gravestones that were in bad condition.
  • The oldest memorial on the ground happens to be that of the Neal Children, a stone that was carved in 1666 by the “Charlestown Carver.”
  • The second oldest memorial is close to the obelisk and was dedicated to John Wakefield, an English Quaker merchant, banker, and entrepreneur who died in 1667 at the age of 52.
  • Near the ground’s entrance on Tremont Street are the ashes of those who lost their lives during the 1770 Boston Massacre. It is believed that the markers were moved and put in an orderly fashion, in straight lines, in the 1800s.

A Few Prominent Burials at Granary Burying Ground

Built to accommodate Boston’s growing population after King’s Chapel Burying Ground ran out of space, this cemetery is known to house the remains of a number of prominent historical figures that includes mayors, patriots, governors, clergymen, along with many other citizens. Some of the prominent burials include:
  • Samuel Adams: He was an American patriot who played a key role in the Boston Tea Party and the subsequent Revolution, and was also the statesman to sign the Declaration of Independence.
  • Peter Faneuil: An American colonial merchant, Peter Faneuil was also a slave trader and philanthropist who donated Faneuil Hall to the city of Boston.
  • John Hancock: Another key participant in the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution, the patriot was also a stateman and merchant who signed the Declaration alongside Adams.
  • Paul Revere: He was a silversmith, industrialist, engraver as well as an American patriot who occupied the historic Paul Revere House in downtown Boston between 1770-1800.

About the Crypt Found at Granary Burying Ground

It was in 2009 that a tourist discovered an 8 by 12 feet crypt by falling into the ground while on a self-guided tour of the cemetery. There was a stairway, covered in slate, that led into the crypt that is believed to belong to Jonathan Armitage, a Boston selectman.

How to Reach Granary Burying Ground

The cemetery is located between Park Street Church and Suffolk University Law School and is frequented by those who walk the Freedom Trail. Buses 504, 92, 93 and SL5, trains Fitchburg, Framingham/ Worcester, Greenbush, Middleborough/ Lakeville and the Green and Red lines of the MTBA Subway bring visitors close to the Burying Ground, with Park Street, Government Center, Downtown Crossing and Haymarket being some of the closest stops.

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