Welcome to Granary Burying Ground, one of the oldest historic sites in Boston! Famous, infamous, and unknown Bostonians are buried here. Men, women, children, Puritans, Anglicans, Catholics, English, French, Africans, patriots, Tories, printers, goldsmiths, merchants, and scavengers were all laid to rest in Granary. Seventeenth-century Putitans John Endecott (Sign #5) and Samuel Sewall (Sign #6) rest here, as do revolutionaries Samuel Adams (Sign #2), John Hancock (Sign #7), James Otis (Sign #8), Paul Revere, and the victims of the Boston Massacre (Sign #2). Women such as Abiah Franklin (Sign #4), Mary (not Mother) Goose (Sign #5), and Ruth Carter (Sign #3) are memorialized in stone. There are tragic tales of duels (Sign #8) and slave trading (Signs #6 and #7). In Granary rest nine Massachusetts governors, three signers of the Declaration of Independence, and many Revolutionary War veterans.
This graveyard was started by Boston's town officials in 1660 because of overcrowding at the "old burying ground" (King's Chapel, one block away). Granary is Boston's third graveyard and was referred to as the "New Burying Ground" or "South Burying Ground." Later it was called "Middle" or "Central" Burying Ground until it was named "Granary" after 1800. This name referred to the 12,000-bushel grain storage warehouse built in 1729 to provide food for the poor. The Granary building was moved to Dorchester in 1809 to make way for Park Street Church. It was originally a part of the Common at the very edge of 17th century Boston where the land rose steeply to three towering hills or "trimountain." Here, Boston Town put "noxious" buildings and activities they wanted away from the bustling harbor businesses, including the burying grounds, the almshouse or poorhouse, the prison, the cow pen, and the workhouse.
The Granary Burying Ground today covers approximately two acres and contains 2,345 gravestones and 204 tombs. It is probable that more than 8,000 men, women, and children were buried here, the majority in the tombs that border the grounds. Many gravestones have decayed or have been lost. Granary was overcrowded by the 18th century, and burials outside of tombs were prohibited from 1856 on. The gravestone locations have been rearranged at least two times to accommodate pathways and landscaping, so many no longer mark the actual burial location. In 1840 Solomon Willard, sculptor and architect of the Bunker Hill Monument, designed Granary's Egyptian-style gateway.
First Mayor and First Architect
The Honorable John Phillips (1770-1823) united warring town factions to form a city government and become Boston's first mayor in 1822. His son, Wendell Phillips, was the famous abolitionist. Mayor Phillips was buried in Tomb 60, the Buttoph Family tomb.
Scottish architect and portrait painter John Smibert (1688-1751) painted many of the wealthy Bostonians who are buried in Granary Burying Ground. Smibert immigrated to Boston in 1729 and married Mary Williams (1708-after 1753), daughter of schoolmaster Nathaniel Williams. In his first five years in Boston he produced more than 100 portraits of Bostonians, including Judge Samuel Sewall. He later painted Peter Faneuil (sign #7) and was the architect for the original Faneuil Hall in 1740-42. He is recognized today as America's first architect. When he died in 1751 he was buried in the Nathaniel Williams Tomb (62). Tomb 62's tablet is inscribed "Thomas and John Bradlee's Tomb 1816," with no markings for its 18th century residents. In the 19th century this tomb, similar to many others in Granary, was resold after the colonial owners died out or left town with the British.