As odd as it sounds, cemeteries are some of my favorite places to visit when traveling to a city with a rich history. In Paris, it was Pere l’Chaise. In Boston, it was the Granary Burying Ground. Part of Boston’s Freedom Trail, it seems I’m not the only one interested in cemeteries. There are visitors walking through this historical site the moment it opens to the second the gates close. It’s a site that is not only the resting place of many historical figures but also a memorial for many others.
If you take a professional tour of the Freedom Trail, you’ll get a great history lesson with facts that aren’t included in history books. If you don’t take a tour but one happens to be walking through as you’re visiting the Granary, get close enough to listen. I did this while visiting and learned quite a few fun facts about Paul Revere and Alexander Hamilton.
Some of the historical figures the Granary is known for include Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mary Goose, James Otis, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, and more. There are several men who signed the Declaration of Independence, victims of the Boston Massacre, political figures, well-known benefactors, Revolutionary veterans and even a judge from the Salem Witch Trials.
Many of the grave markers and memorials for the more significant historical figures in history have received upgrades. They’re rather magnificent in their presentation especially those for Benjamin Franklin’s family and John Hancock. Yet, the cemetery as a whole is full of original gravestones. They’re worn, tilted, broken down a little bit and sunk. While that might sound creepy or even sad, I found it the opposite. Many of these people had been gone for at least 250 years yet their memory still carries on through these stones that families put thought, creativity and love into. After all this time, you might say they're still alive in some ways because of those grave markers.
You can even see Paul Revere’s old gravestone. I believe he didn’t have one at first but it ended up being marked not long after his death. They’ve since erected a larger memorial for him since we’ve come to idolize his involvement in the Revolutionary War and American Independence. That small gravestone marking his place shows a bit of humility which seems appropriate. For anyone familiar with American history in particular, you may know that Paul Revere’s famous actions became more eccentric as time passed. Henry Longfellow idolized Paul Revere and amplified his famous actions during the war in “Paul Revere’s Ride.". A little food for thought…
The Granary is located in the heart of downtown Boston making it easy to pass through. If it’s not in your plans, I strongly encourage you to consider making it a stop in your itinerary. Even if it is just to pass through on your way from one place to another, it’s a memorable experience and won’t take much of your time.