Digital Commonwealth

Monument Tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Monument Tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Item Information

Title:
Monument Tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Description:
Washington Tower, a landmark and popular attraction at Mount Auburn, was built from 1852-1854. The tower was architecturally significant for two reasons: it was a common motif in the English picturesque landscape that the Cemetery?s founders were trying to emulate and it was a distinct landmark, something that could be seen from miles away. Dr. Jacob Bigelow modeled the Tower on the round towers of feudal ages, with battlements, a gallery, Gothic windows, and a spiral staircase. Both sides of the Quincy granite blocks that comprise the Tower were hammered smooth so that each makes a part of the inside and outside of the walls. At a July 6, 1852 meeting, Mount Auburn president Jacob Bigelow exhibited a model designed by him. The Trustees voted that a committee of Jacob Bigelow, Charles Little and Mace Tisdale should go on and erect the Tower in granite atop the highest summit in the Cemetery, Mount Auburn. The committee then contracted with Messrs. Whitcher & Sheldon, of Quincy, to erect the tower for $18,500. With the addition of stone steps and a broad platform, as well as the grading of the hill, the total expense came to about $22,000. The sixty-two foot tower was opened in 1854 without any formal dedication ceremony. It quickly became a popular destination due to its superb views of Boston, the Charles River, and several nearby summits. In addition to the panorama it offered visitors, the tower served as a landmark by which those in the surrounding towns could look and think of their loved ones buried there. When built, the 62-foot tall Tower and the Bunker Hill monument in neighboring Charlestown were two of the tallest landmarks, establishing Mount Auburn's visual and metaphorical prominence as fully intended by the founders.
Format:
Photographs
Location:
Watertown Free Public Library
Collection (local):
Watertown Cemetaries
Subjects:
Cemeteries--Massachusetts--Watertown
Inscriptions--Massachusetts--Watertown
Massachusetts--Watertown--Cemeteries
Landscape architecture--Watertown (Mass)--Mt. Auburn
Bigelow, Jacob--1787--1879
Places:
MassachusettsMiddlesex (county)Watertown
Identifier:
figure 2181
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