Reliving American History Through Boston’s Granary Cemetery

One of the cool things about Boston is that it’s so rich with Revolutionary War-era history and artifacts. I’m a big fan of cemeteries (you may recall my visits to Andy Warhol’s grave and Marilyn Monroe’s grave), so I had to stop by some of Boston’s cemeteries to see some of the historic grave sites.

The Granary Cemetery (officially, The Granary Burying Ground) is really odd because it’s located downtown, right across the street from skyscrapers and other evidence of modern life. You don’t usually see a cemetery breaking up the concrete jungle in a major city like that.

About Granary Burying Ground

The cemetery is super-old, having been established in 1660. There aren’t many American landmarks that are more than 350 years old! More than 2,000 graves are located here, most of them in very close proximity to their neighbors.

boston cemetery
Graves at Granary Cemetery in Boston.

So who’s buried at Granary Cemetery? How about the legendary Paul Revere, who went on a famous ride to warn residents the British were coming. In case you haven’t been paying attention, he is Sarah Palin’s favorite historical figure.

paul revere grave

Paul also gets a memorial on the gate:

paul revere grave granary burial ground

Other Notable People Buried at Granary Cemetery

Also located in the cemetery is Samuel Adams, whose chief claim to fame is being the inspiration for a brand of beer. Oh, and he was also a founding father of our nation and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Crispus Attacks and other victims of the Boston Massacre are buried here together.

Robert Treat Paine, another signer of the Declaration of Independence, has a plaque marking his tomb.

And then you may remember John Hancock, owner of perhaps the most famous penmanship in Revolutionary history. His memorial is located in Granary. Not many people get their face on their grave stone! Well done, John.

john hancock grave granary

John Hancock’s grave is definitely one of the most unique and memorable in the cemetery.

Other notable people at Granary Burying Ground:

John Phillips, who was the first mayor of Boston from 1822-1823

Samuel Sewall, a Salem witch trials judge

John Endecott, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

James Otis, a prominent lawyer and patriot in the Revolutionary War

Visiting Granary

The cemetery actually discovered a new, hidden grave two years ago when a tourist fell into a secret passageway. I wish that had been me! How quirky would that have been?

The Granary Burying Ground has approximately 2300 graves, which is a massive amount for a small downtown plot of land. Find the cemetery right at 95 Tremont Street.

Plans are now underway to upgrade and modernize the Granary Cemetery and Burying Ground, which has seen better days. For more, see the site’s official website.

While you’re in Boston, make sure to also check out the Battle of Bunker Hill site, and the cool suburb of Cambridge.

And if you’re really into history, see our article on a Revolutionary War road trip, which goes from Boston to upstate New York and down to Philadelphia, hitting some of the most prominent sites of the conflict.

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