Boston graveyards are a meaningful and interesting way to explore the history of the city, so while visiting a historic graveyard in Boston might not seem like the most uplifting experience at first, it is well worth adding to your list of things to do. Several graveyards are old enough to be fascinating solely for that reason, but they also house the remains of many American patriots and figures of the Revolution, including signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Granary Burying Ground and the King's Chapel Burying Ground are two of the oldest Boston graveyards, and their inhabitants are among the most prestigious figures in American history.
The Granary Burying Ground dates from 1660 and is the third-oldest graveyard in Boston. It has a distinctive Egyptian-style gate and fence and many beautiful trees, making it a pleasant place to visit. It is located on Tremont Street next to the Park Street Church and across from the Suffolk Law School. A notable monument on the grounds is the Franklin Monument, an obelisk constructed of the same granite used for the Bunker Hill Monument. It was erected to commemorate Benjamin Franklin's parents and relatives, though Benjamin Franklin himself is not buried in the cemetery.
Famous patriots and heroes who are buried in the Granary Burying Ground include Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine, who signed the Declaration of Independence, as well as Paul Revere and James Otis, both famous figures from the Revolutionary War. Several prominent Massachusetts governors as well as influential Boston citizens are also buried in the cemetery. Interestingly, in 2009, a tourist discovered a previously unknown tomb when she fell through the ground into a stairway leading to an underground crypt. The tomb is thought to be the grave of Boston selectman named Jonathan Armitage, who held office from 1732-33.
The King's Chapel Burying Ground is Boston's oldest cemetery. Founded in 1630, it was the only burying ground in Boston for the next 30 years. The cemetery is located on the corner of Tremont and School Streets, and like the Granary cemetery, is also a stop on the Freedom Trail. The King's Chapel Burying Ground is the final resting place for many prominent colonists, including Mary Chilton, the first female passenger to step off the Mayflower. Several famous Puritans are buried there, including John Winthrop, John Cotton, and John Davenport.
William Dawes, Paul Revere's companion on his midnight ride, is also believed to be buried here at King's Chapel, though some have also speculated that his body actually lies in another cemetery on the other side of town. An Anglican church also stands on the cemetery grounds. Established in 1686, King's Chapel was authorized to build a church on the property by King James II, who wanted to ensure an Anglican parish would endure in the town.
A visit to one of the Boston graveyards means an encounter with some of the famed historical figures of America's past. From Revolutionary heroes to famous colonists, glimpsing the tombs of these historical figures is a vivid encounter with the past. If you're interested in learning about the history of Boston, stopping by the cemeteries in addition to sites such as Boston Common, the Old North Church, or Faneuil Hall, is a great way to add an unusual and sometimes spooky twist to your vacation.