Bunker Hill Monument
WELCOME to The
Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker
Hill. The 221 foot granite obelisk was erected between 1827 and 1843
in Charlestown, Massachusetts with granite from Quincy, Massachusetts,
conveyed to the site via the first commercial railway in the United
States, built specially for that purpose, followed by a trip by barge.
There are 294 steps to the top.
The Bunker Hill Monument is not on Bunker Hill
but instead on Breed's Hill, where most of the fighting in the
misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place. The Monument
Association, which had purchased the battlefield site, was forced to
sell off all but the hill's summit in order to complete the monument.
The monument was erected to commemorate the
Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major conflict between British and
Patriot forces in the Revolutionary War, fought there June 17, 1775.
The first monument at the site was created in memory of Mason and
fallen Bunker Hill hero Dr. Joseph Warren in 1794 by King Solomon's
Lodge of Masons and was initially an 18 foot wooden pillar topped with
a gilt urn.
In front of the obelisk is a statue of Col.
William Prescott, another hero of Bunker Hill. A native of Groton, he
coined the famous Revolutionary War phrase, "Don't fire until you
see the whites of their eyes". That order was popularized by
stories about Bunker Hill.
However, it is uncertain as to who said it,
since various writers attribute it to Putnam, Stark, Prescott or
Gridley. Doubts have also been expressed as to how original it was,
and whether it was said at all.
An exhibit lodge built adjacent to the monument
in the late 19th century houses a statue of Warren and a diorama of
the battle. Bunker Hill is one of the sites along the Freedom Trail
and is part of Boston National Historical Park.
The monument site reopened on April 2, 2007,
after completion of a 3.7 million dollar renovation that included
repairs, handicap accessibility improvements, and new lighting for the
Bunker Hill Monument that was switched on for the first time on April
20, 2007. A new Bunker Hill Museum, across the street from the
Monument, was dedicated on June 17, 2007, and includes many new
Construction of the monument
William Ticknor, a well-known Boston lawyer and
antiquarian, first suggested the memorial and an interested group of
men met for breakfast at the home of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins.
Among them were William Tudor, Daniel Webster, Professor George
Ticknor, Doctor John C. Warren, William Sullivan, and George Blake. On
May 10, 1823, the first public meeting was called.
Each member subscribed five dollars, and on June
7, 1823, the Bunker Hill Monument Association was established and the
work of raising money was begun. Famed nineteenth-century
philanthropist Amos Lawrence contributed $10,000 to fund the building.
In the spring of 1825 the directors had
purchased about 15 acres on the slope of Breed's Hill, but had not yet
chosen a design. The first design committee consisted of Daniel
Webster, noted engineer Loammi Baldwin, Jr., George Ticknor, Gilbert
Stuart, and Washington Allston.
One hundred dollars was offered for the best
design; about 50 plans were presented in response. Choice was soon
narrowed to two (a column and an obelisk) and a new committee was
appointed to procure designs and estimate expenses for each. At the
next meeting the majority voted that the obelisk designed by Solomon
Willard be used. The directors laid the corner-stone on June 17,
The Marquis de Lafayette performed the ceremony,
Daniel Webster delivered the oration, and the Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons,
conducted the services. Rev. Joseph Thaxter, who was wounded in the
battle, officiated as chaplain at the ceremony, offering a prayer in
thanks for the colonists' victory. Perhaps surprisingly, a railroad
was created to carry granite to the monument for its
Work proceeded somewhat slowly at first, but the
Granite Railway was completed in short order and became operational on
October 7, 1826, as the first commercial railroad in the United States
functioning as a common carrier.
Construction was frequently halted as available
funds were depleted. To bring the project to completion the Monument
Association in 1838 began to sell off the 10 acres (40,000 m2)
of the battlefield as house lots, eventually preserving only the
summit of Breed's Hill as the monument grounds.
The capstone was laid on July 23, 1842 with the
monument being dedicated on June 17 of the following year, again with
a Daniel Webster oration.
The Bunker Hill Monument Association maintained
the monument and grounds until 1919 when it was turned over to the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In 1976 the monument was transferred to the
National Park Service and became a unit of Boston National Historical
Page 1 of 1