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Granary Burying Ground

Established in 1660, some of America's most notable citizens rest here. Named for the 12,000-bushel grain storage building that was once next door, the historic cemetery has 2,300 markers. However, there is a discrepancy between the number of headstones and the number of people buried in the Granary - it is estimated there are over 5,000 Bostonians who have made the Granary their final resting place.

The Infant’s Tomb, where hundreds of children have been interred, is located near the central obelisk that marks the grave of Benjamin Franklin’s parents. Alongside the far wall, an elaborately embellished obelisk marks John Hancock’s tomb. Paul Revere is buried near the back of the Granary; a large marker placed in the 19th century stands by a smaller, older slate marker. Matching stones in the two front corners of the burial ground commemorate James Otis and Samuel Adams. Next to the stone for Adams is the grave marker for the victims of the Boston Massacre. On the right hand wall is a plaque marking the tomb of Robert Treat Paine, the third signer of the Declaration of Independence buried in the Granary (the others being John Hancock and Samuel Adams).

GRAVEYARD GRAZING At one time the Granary was part of Boston Common, and the livestock that grazed the Common handled landscaping at the burial ground as well. During the Victorian era, the headstones were reorganized into neat rows to make way for a modern innovation of the time, 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.

Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tour
African-American Patriots Tour
Historic Holiday Stroll

Granary Burying Ground
Tremont Street
617-635-4505
Open daily 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
www.cityofboston.gov/freedomtrail/

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