Established in 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is notable as the resting place of Boston’s most famous sons. Named for the 12,000 bushel grain storage building that was next door, the historic cemetery has 2,345 markers. Some say as a many as 8,000 people were buried here. Among America's historic cemeteries, the Granary Burying Ground, on the Freedom Trail, is one of the most famous cemeteries in Boston today.
The Infant’s Tomb #203 where an estimated 500 children have been interred is located near the central obelisk that marks the graves of Benjamin Franklin’s parents. Alongside the far wall to the southwest is the elaborately embellished marker of John Hancock’s tomb. Toward the rear Paul Revere is buried; a larger marker placed in the 19th Century stands by a small slate marker that dates from Revere’s burial. Bookend monuments in the two front corners of the burial ground represent patriots James Otis and Samuel Adams. Sam Adams had the Boston Massacre victims interred in his family tomb, and so beside the marker of that tomb is one for the victims: Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr. On the right hand wall is a plaque marking the tomb of Robert Treat Paine. He along with Sam Adams and John Hancock brings the number of signers of the Declaration of Independence buried in Granary to three.
GRAVEYARD GRAZING At one time the Granary was part of the Boston Common, and the livestock that grazed the Common handled landscaping at the burial ground as well. When buildings ultimately separated the Granary from the Common, some subtle rearrangement of headstones occurred to make way for the modern innovation known as the lawn mower.
GRAVEN IMAGES Puritan churches did not believe in religious icons or imagery, so the people of Boston used tombstones as an outlet for artistic expression of their beliefs about the afterlife. One of the most popular motifs was the Soul Effigy, a skull or death’s head with a wing on each side that was a representation of the soul flying to heaven after death. Elaborate scroll work, poetic epitaphs and depictions of the Grim Reaper and Father Time also adorn many headstones.
Click here to see the $300,000 Historic Landscape Restoration project completed in the Fall of 2011 by the Boston Parks & Recreation Department, funded in part with a $125,000 grant from the Freedom Trail Foundation Preservation Fund.
Granary Burying Ground
Open daily 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.