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History of Early American Landscape Design

Difference between revisions of "Bunker Hill Monument"

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The '''Bunker Hill Monument''' in Charleston, Massachusetts commemorates a pivotal early battle in the American war for independence. It is the first colossal [[obelisk]] erected in the United States. <ref> John Zukowsky, "Monumental American Obelisks: Centennial Vistas," ''The Art Bulletin'', 58 (December 1976): 574, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/U8M75BD9 view on Zotero]. </ref>
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{{Place
 +
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|Established Date=1826
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|Location=Charlestown, MA
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|Coordinates=42.37635, -71.06297
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|Geolocation link=coordinates
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|Condition=Extant
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|Associated people={{Associated person
 +
|Name=Robert Mills
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|Role=Design Competitor
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|From Date=1781
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}}{{Associated person
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|Name=Horatio Greenough
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}}{{Associated person
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|Name=Solomon Willard
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|Role=Design Winner
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|External link URL=http://vocab.getty.edu/page/tgn/1100539
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|External link text=Getty TGN
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}}{{ExternalLink
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|External link URL=http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85018010
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|External link text=LOC (Battle of Bunker Hill)
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}}
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The '''Bunker Hill Monument''' in Charlestown, Massachusetts, commemorates a pivotal early battle in the American war for independence. It is the first colossal [[obelisk]] erected in the United States.<ref> John Zukowsky, “Monumental American Obelisks: Centennial Vistas,''Art Bulletin'' 58 (December 1976): 574, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/U8M75BD9 view on Zotero].</ref>
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<hr>
  
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== History ==
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[[File:0697.jpg|thumb|230px|left|Fig. 1, Lewis Miller, “Bunker Hill Monument, Boston,” in ''Sketches and Chronicles'' (1966), 147.]]
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[[File:2083.jpg|thumb|Fig. 2, Anonymous, “The Tomb of Warren,” ''Analectic Magazine'' 11 (March 1818): 253.]]
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The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775, on and around Breed’s Hill during the Siege of Boston. Nineteen years later, an 18-foot Tuscan [[pillar]] surmounted by a gilt [[Vase/Urn|urn]] was erected in memory of Dr. Joseph Warren (1741&ndash;1775), a hero of the battle, by the members of his Masonic Lodge [Fig. 2]. Bunker Hill became a pilgrimage site for patriotic tourism early in the 19th century. Public perception of its importance increased as a result of the well-publicized visit, in 1817, of the newly elected president James Monroe&mdash;a symbolic act of national healing following the divisive War of 1812.<ref>Sarah J. Purcell, ''Sealed with Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America'' (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 106, 164, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/F6AX826F view on Zotero].</ref>
  
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In 1823 a group of prominent Massachusetts citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association for the purpose of creating a more ambitious memorial commensurate with the battle’s national importance. The Association envisioned “a simple, majestic, lofty, and permanent monument, which shall carry down to remote ages a testimony . . . to the heroic virtue and courage of those men who began and achieved the independence of their country.”<ref>George Washington Warren, ''The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association'' (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1877), 47, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/BN66XVRS view on Zotero]; see also Purcell 2010, 195&ndash;99, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/F6AX826F view on Zotero].</ref> In order to protect the battlefield from encroaching development as the local population grew, the Association’s standing committee purchased 15 acres on the [[slope]] of Breed’s Hill and authorized [[Solomon Willard]], a stone worker and builder, to draw the plan for a 221-foot [[column]].
 +
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[[File:2087.jpg|thumb|Fig. 3, Anonymous, ''Boston Massachusetts. View of Bunker Hill Monument, Charles.[town]'', c. 1848.]]
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The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a [[column]] had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. [[Robert Mills]], an architect who had previously designed the [[Washington Monument (Baltimore)|Washington Monument]] in Baltimore, submitted plans for a [[column]] as well as an [[obelisk]], expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and . . . fine surface for inscriptions.”<ref>John M. Bryan, ''Robert Mills: America’s First Architect'' (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), 204, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero]; Pamela Scott, “Robert Mills and American Monuments,” in ''Robert Mills, Architect'', ed. John M. Bryan (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 133, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/E2TP47UJ view on Zotero].</ref> Mills specified that along with inscriptions, the monument was to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices&mdash;shields, stars, spears, and wreaths&mdash;which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the [[obelisk]]. Horatio Greenough (1805&ndash;1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an [[obelisk]] but in a far simpler form. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.”<ref>Henry T. Tuckerman, ''A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, Consisting of a Memoir, Selections from His Writings, and Tributes to His Genius'' (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1853), 82, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
  
==Overview==
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[[File:2088.jpg|thumb|left|Fig. 4, A. L. Dick after William Henry Bartlett, ''Boston, and Bunker Hill. (From the East)'', after 1843.]]
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Following extensive debate over the architectural form best suited to communicate the heroic, memorial, and patriotic themes of the monument, the committee determined that the [[obelisk]] was “most congenial to republican institutions.”<ref>Purcell 2010, 199&ndash;200; see also Nathalia Wright, “The Monument That Jonathan Built,” ''American Quarterly Observer'' 5 (1953): 167&ndash;71, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/7UDSBFWK view on Zotero].</ref> [[Solomon Willard|Willard]] received the commission to construct the monument, which he originally designed with an Egyptian Revival base. Lack of funds required simplification of [[Solomon Willard|Willard’s]] design and the selling of most of the land purchased by the Association [Fig. 1]. Only the summit of the hill was preserved for the monument grounds.<ref>William W. Wheildon, ''Memoir of Solomon Willard, Architect and Superintendent of the Bunker Hill Monument'' (Boston: The Monument Association, 1865), 58&ndash;224, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/6SSSK2ZT view on Zotero]; see also Solomon Willard, ''Plans and Sections of the Obelisk on Bunker’s Hill, with the Details of Experiments Made in Quarrying the Granite'' (Boston: Charles Cook, 1843), [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RES2EZNJ view on Zotero].</ref> Landscape improvements carried out between 1842 and 1847 included grading, planting trees and [[hedge]]s, laying sidewalks, and installing iron [[fence]]s [Fig. 3].<ref>Kristen Heitert, ''Archeological Overview and Assessment of Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Submitted to the Northeast Region Archeology Program National Park Service'', Public Archeology Laboratory, January 2009, 38&ndash;39, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/FM5GNFXD view on Zotero].</ref>
  
'''Alternate Names:'''
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The erection of the monument enhanced Bunker Hill’s popularity as a patriotic destination. As tourism increased over the course of the 19th century, it featured frequently in travel literature and the pictorial press, both as a subject in itself and as an immediately recognizable landmark in panoramic views of Boston [Fig. 4]. From the time of the monument’s official dedication in 1843, it also became a favorite site of civic ceremonies and firework displays on the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill and other patriotic occasions.
  
'''Site Dates:''' 1826-1842
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''Robyn Asleson''
  
'''Site Designer(s):''' Robert Mills; Horatio Greenough; Solomon Willard
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<hr>
  
'''Location:'''<br/> [https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=&ie=UTF-8&q=bunker+hill+monument+map&fb=1&gl=us&hq=bunker+hill+monument&cid=12443189800891843224&ei=xeFjU47mMOXJsQSfoYAw&ved=0CB0QtQMwAA View on Google Maps]
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==Texts==
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*Standing Committee of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, September 24, 1824, circular about Bunker Hill Monument (quoted in Wheildon 1865: 64&ndash;67)<ref name="Wheildon_1865">Weildon 1935, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/6SSSK2ZT view on Zotero].</ref>
  
== History ==
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:“The spot itself on which this memorable action took place, is extremely favorable for becoming the site of a monumental structure. . . . An elevated monument on this spot would be the first landmark of the mariner in his approach to our harbor; while the whole neighboring country, . . . with their rich fields, villages and spires; the buildings of the University, the [[bridge]]s, the numerous ornamental country [[seat]]s and improved [[plantation]]s, the whole bounded by a distant line of hills and farming landscape which cannot be surpassed in variety and beauty, would be spread out as in a picture, to the eye of the spectator on the summit of the proposed structure. . . .
  
The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775 on and around Breed’s Hill during the Siege of Boston. Nineteen years later, an 18-foot Tuscan pillar surmounted by a gilt [[Vase/Urn|urn]] was erected in memory of Dr. Joseph Warren (1741-1775), a hero of the battle, by the members of his Masonic Lodge. In 1823 a group of prominent Massachusetts citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association for the purpose of creating a more ambitious memorial commensurate with the battle’s national importance.
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:“In forming an estimate of the cost of the structure proposed, a single eye has been had to the principle which dictates its erection. Everything separated from the idea of substantial strength and severe taste has been discarded, as foreign from the grave and serious character both of the men and events to be commemorated. With this principle in view, it has been ascertained that a monumental [[column]], of a classic model, with an elevation to make it the most lofty in the world, may be erected of our fine Chelmsford granite, for about thirty-seven thousand dollars. . . .  
The Association envisioned “a simple, majestic, lofty, and permanent monument, which shall carry down to remote ages a testimony…to the heroic virtue and courage of those men who began and achieved the independence of their country.” <ref> George Washington Warren, ''The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association'' (Boston, Mass.: James R. Osgood, 1877), 47, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/BN66XVRS view on Zotero]; see also Sarah J. Purcell, ''Sealed with Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America'' (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 195-99, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/F6AX826F view on Zotero]. </ref> In order to protect the battlefield from encroaching development as the local population grew, the Association’s standing committee purchased 15 acres on the [[terrace/slope|slope]] of Breed’s Hill and authorized [[Solomon Willard]], a stone worker and builder, to draw the plan for a 221-foot [[column]].
 
  
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:“The beautiful and noble arts of design and architecture have hitherto been engaged in arbitrary and despotic service. The Pyramids and [[Obelisk]]s of Egypt ; the monumental [[column]]s of Trajan and Aurelius, have paid no tribute to the rights and feelings of man. Majestic and graceful as they are, they have no record but that of sovereignty, sometimes cruel and tyrannical, and sometimes mild: but never that of a great, enlightened and generous people. . . . Our fellow-citizens of Baltimore have set us a noble example of redeeming the arts to the cause of free institutions, in the imposing monument they have erected to the memory of those who fell in defending their city. If we cannot be the first to set up a structure of this character, let us not be other than the first to improve upon the example; to arrest and fix the feelings of our generation on the important events of an earlier and more momentous struggle, and to redeem the pledge of gratitude to the high-souled heroes of that trying day.”
  
The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a [[column]] had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. [[Robert Mills]], an architect who had previously designed the [[Washington Monument (Baltimore)|Washington Monument]] in Baltimore, submitted plans for a [[column]] as well as an [[obelisk]], expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and…fine surface for inscriptions.” <ref> John M. Bryan, ''Robert Mills: America’s First Architect'' (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), 204, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/P55UM5XC view on Zotero]; Pamela Scott, "Robert Mills and American Monuments," in ''Robert Mills, Architect'', ed. John M. Bryan (Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 133, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/E2TP47UJ view on Zotero]. </ref> Along with inscriptions, the monument was "to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices &mdash; shields, stars, spears, and wreaths &mdash; which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the [[obelisk]]. Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an [[obelisk]]. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.” <ref> Henry T. Tuckerman, ''A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, Consisting of a Memoir, Selections from His Writings, and Tributes to His Genius'' (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1853), 82, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
 
  
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*[[Robert Mills|Mills, Robert]], March 20, 1825, in a letter to the Bunker Hill Monument Commission (quoted in Gallagher 1935: 204–6)<ref name="Gallagher_1935">H. M. Pierce Gallagher, ''Robert Mills, Architect of the Washington Monument, 1781&ndash;1855'' (New York: Columbia University Press: 1935), [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/GC3NPRZJ view on Zotero].</ref>
  
Following extensive debate over the architectural form best suited to communicate the heroic, memorial, and patriotic themes of the monument, the committee determined that the [[obelisk]] was “most congenial to republican institutions.” <ref> Purcell, 2010, 199-200; see also Nathalia Wright, "The Monument That Jonathan Built," ''American Quarterly Observer'', 5 (1953): 167-71, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/7UDSBFWK view on Zotero]. </ref> [[Solomon Willard|Willard]] received the commission to construct the monument, which he originally designed with an Egyptian Revival base. Lack of funds required simplification of [[Solomon Willard|Willard's]] design and the selling of most of the land purchased by the Association. Only the summit of the hill was preserved for the monument grounds. <ref> William W. Wheildon, ''Memoir of Solomon Willard, Architect and Superintendent of the Bunker Hill Monument'' (Boston, Mass.: The Monument Association, 1865), 58-224, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/6SSSK2ZT view on Zotero]; see also Solomon Willard, ''Plans and Sections of the Obelisk on Bunker’s Hill, with the Details of Experiments Made in Quarrying the Granite'' (Boston, Mass.: Charles Cook, 1843), [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RES2EZNJ view on Zotero]. </ref> Landscape improvements carried out between 1842 and 1847 included grading, planting trees and [[hedge]]s, laying sidewalks, and installing iron [[fence]]s. <ref> Kristen Heitert, ''Archeological Overview and Assessment of Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Submitted to the Northeast Region Archeology Program National Park Service'', Public Archeology Laboratory (PAL), January 2009, 38-39, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/FM5GNFXD view on Zotero]. </ref>
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:“I have the honor to submit for your consideration and approval, a design for the Monument you propose erecting on the spot, where the Brave General Warren and his worthy associates fell; to commemorate their valor, and the gratitude of their Country. . . .
  
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:“In the design for the Monument which I now have the honor to lay before you, I would recommend the adoption of the ''[[obelisk]]'' form, in preference to the ''[[Column]]''—the detail I have affixed to this species of [[pillar]], will be found to give it a peculiarly interesting character, embracing originality of effect with simplicity of design, economy in execution, great solidity and capacity for decoration, reaching to the highest degree of splendor consistant with good taste. . . .
  
--''Robyn Asleson''
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:“The ''[[obelisk]]'' form is, for monuments, of greater antiquity than the [[Column]] as appears from history, being used as early as the days of Ramises King of Egypt in the time of the Trojan War—Kercher reckons up 14 [[obelisk]] that were celebrated above the rest, namely, that of Alexandria; that of the Barberins; those of Constantinople; of the Mons Esquilinus; of the Campus Flaminius; of Florence; of Heliopolis; of Ludorisco; of St. Makut, of the Medici of the vatican; of M. Coelius, and that of Pamphila. The highest on record mentioned, is that erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus in memory of Arsinoe.
  
==Images==
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:“The ''[[obelisk]]'' form is peculiarly adapted to commemorate ''great transactions'' from its lofty character, great strength, and furnishing a fine surface for inscriptions&mdash;There is a degree of lightness and beauty in it that affords a finer relief to the eye than can be obtained in the regular proportioned [[Column]].
<span id="roundabout_img"></span>
 
<gallery widths="170px" heights="170px" perrow="7">
 
  
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:“Our monument includes a square of 24 feet at the base above the zocle or plinth, and is 15 feet square at the top&mdash;Its total elevation is 220 feet above the pavement&mdash;The shaft is divided into four great compartments for inscriptive, and other decorations, which come more immediately under the eye by means of oversailing platforms, enclosed by balastrades, supported as it were by winged globes (symbols of immortality peculiarly of a monumental Character).
  
</gallery>
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:“A series of shields band round the foot of the shaft, representing the 13 States, which form’d the Federal union, as principal, having their arms sculptured on their face&mdash;A star, on a plain tablet in connection with the former, represents each the other states which now constitute our Union&mdash;the whole surmounted by spears and wreathes.
  
==Texts==
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:“A flight of stone steps, or a rising platform, surround the base, from whence the lower inscriptions are read&mdash;
: "The spot itself on which this memorable action took place, is extremely favorable for becoming the site of a monumental structure. Competent judges have pronounced the heights of Charlestown to excel any spot on our coast, in their adaptation to the object in view....  An elevated monument on this spot would be the first landmark of the mariner in his approach to our harbor; while the whole neighboring country,... with their rich fields, villages and spires; the buildings of the University, the [[bridge]]s, the numerous ornamental country [[seat]]s and improved [[plantation]]s, the whole bounded by a distant line of hills and farming landscape which cannot be surpassed in variety and beauty, would be spread out as in a picture, to the eye of the spectator on the summit of the proposed structure.
 
  
11 Nor are these the only natural advantages of the spot. Though essentially rural in many of its features, it rises above one of our most flourishing towns, the seat of several important national establishments, where the noble ships of war of the American Republic seem to guard the approach to the spot where her first martyrs fought and bled. Its immediate vicinity to Boston, and its convenient distance from Salem, makes the ac
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:“This is inclosed by a rich bronzed palisade&mdash;The entrance into the monument is from this platform, when a flight of stone steps, winding round a [[pillar]], ascends to the top, and communicates with the several platforms. Between the galleries, on each face of the [[pillar]], a wreath, hung on a speer, encircles the letter W, which is otherwise decorated and constitute apertures for lighting the interior of the Monument&mdash;over the Last wreath, and near the apex of the [[obelisk]], a great star is placed, emblematic of the glory to which the name of Warren has risen&mdash;A tripod crowns the whole and forms the surmounting of the Monument&mdash;This tripod is the classic emblem of immortality.”
cess to it direct from the centres of our most numerous, wealthy
 
and active populations, and will be the means of keeping contin-
 
  
  
 +
*[[Solomon Willard|Willard, Solomon]], 1825, in a letter to George Ticknor, member of the Bunker Hill Monument Association Standing Committee (quoted in Wheildon 1865: 79)<ref name="Wheildon_1865"></ref>
  
MEMOIR OF SOLOMON WILLARD. 65
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:“I have made another slight sketch of the [[obelisk]] you suggested. I have supposed that the monument would be enclosed by an iron [[fence]] and have sketched the frustums of pyramids, in the Egyptian style, at the angles, which may serve as accompaniments and also for a lodge, watch house, &c. The [[obelisk]] and base is as sketched before, with the addition of a broad platform and a subterranean entrance.
  
ually in sight, or bringing frequently to view, to the great
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:“It has always seemed to me that any of the three figures which have been proposed, if well designed, would make a respectable monument. The [[obelisk]] I have always preferred for its severe cast and its nearer approach to the simplicity of nature than the others. The [[column]] might be more splendid. The character of the [[obelisk]], without a pedestal, seems to me to be strictly appropriate for the occasion and I think would rank first as a specimen of art and be highly creditable to the taste of the age.
masses of the community, the imposing memorial of an event
 
which ought never to be absent from their memory, as its effects
 
are daily and hourly brought home to the business and bosoms
 
of every American citizen."
 
" In forming an estimate of the cost of the structure proposed,  
 
a single eye has been had to the principle which dictates its erec-
 
tion. Everything separated from the idea of substantial strength
 
and severe taste has been discarded, as foreign from the grave
 
and serious character both of the men and events to be commem-
 
orated. With this principle in view, it has been ascertained
 
that a monumental column, of a classic model, with an elevation
 
to make it the most lofty in the world, may be erected of our fine
 
Chelmsford granite, for about thirty-seven thousand dollars."*
 
  
" The general propriety and expediency of erecting public
 
monuments of the kind proposed are acknowledged by all.
 
They form not only the most conspicuous ornaments with which
 
we can adorn our towns and high places, but they are the best
 
proof we can exhibit to strangers, that our sensibility is strong
 
and animated toward those great achievements and greater char-
 
acters, to which we owe all our national blessings. There surely
 
is not one among us who would not experience a strong satisfac-
 
tion in conducting a stranger to the foot of a monumental struc-
 
ture, rising in decent majesty on this memorable spot.
 
It is a becoming expression of this
 
sentiment to honor, in every way, the memories and characters
 
of our fathers ; to adorn a spot where their noble blood was spilt,
 
and not surrender it uncared-for to the plough. Years, it is to
 
be remembered, are rapidly passing away ; and the glorious tra-
 
ditions of our national emancipation which we received from
 
them, will descend more faintly to our successors. The patriotic
 
sentiment, which binds us together more strongly than compacts
 
or constitutions, will if permitted, grow cold from mere lapse of
 
time. We owe these monuments, therefore, not less to the char-
 
acter of our posterity, than to the memory of our fathers. These
 
events must not lose their interest. Our children and our chil-
 
dren's children have a right to these feelings, cherished and kept
 
by a worthy transmission. It is the order of nature that the
 
generation to achieve nobly should be succeeded by a generation
 
worthily to record and gratefully to commemorate. We are not
 
called to the fire and the sword ; to meet the appaling array of
 
armies, to taste the bitter cup of imperial wrath and vengeance
 
proffered to an ill-provided land. We are chosen for the easier,
 
more grateful, but not less bounden duty of commemorating and
 
honoring the labors, sacrifices and sufferings of the great men of
 
those dark times.
 
  
" There is one point of view, in which we seem to be strongly
+
*[[Robert Mills|Mills, Robert]], July 1, 1832, in a letter to Richard Walleck (quoted in Gallagher 1935: 102)<ref name="Gallagher_1935"/>
called upon to engage in the erection of works like that proposed.
 
The beautiful and noble arts of design and architecture have
 
hitherto been engaged in arbitrary and despotic service. The
 
Pyramids and Obelisks of Egypt ; the monumental columns of
 
Trajan and Aurelius, have paid no tribute to the rights and feel-
 
ings of man. Majestic and graceful as they are, they have no
 
record but that of sovereignty, sometimes cruel and tyrannical,
 
and sometimes mild : but never that of a great, enlightened and
 
  
 +
:“When the Bunker Hill Monument Committee advertised for designs for the Monument, I took a good deal of pains to study one which should do honor to the memory of those worthies it was intended to commemorate, and prove an ornament to the city it was to overlook. I went into some detail on the subject of monuments generally and in sending them two designs, recommended in strong terms the adoption of the [[Obelisk]] design, not only from its combining simplicity and economy with grandeur, but as there was already a [[column]] of massy proportions erected in Baltimore, we ought not, therefore, to repeat this figure, but construct one of equally imposing figure.”
  
  
MEMOIR OF SOLOMON WTLLARD. 67
+
*Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851, “The Washington Monument” (quoted in Tuckerman 1853: 82)<ref>Tuckerman 1853, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
  
generous people. Providence, which has given us the senses to  
+
:“The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more. For this reason it was that I designed an [[obelisk]] for Bunker Hill, and urged arguments that appeared to me unanswerable against a [[column]] standing alone. . . .  
observe, the taste to admire, and the skill to execute, these beau-
 
tiful works of art, cannot have intended that, in a flourishing
 
nation of freemen, there should be no scope for their erection.
 
Our fellow-citizens of Baltimore have set us a noble example of
 
redeeming the arts to the cause of free institutions, in the impos-
 
ing monument they have erected to the memory of those who fell
 
in defending their city. If we cannot be the first to set up a
 
structure of this character, let us not be other than the first to
 
improve upon the example ; to arrest and fix the feelings of our
 
generation on the important events of an earlier and more mo-
 
mentous struggle, and to redeem the pledge of gratitude to the
 
high-souled heroes of that trying day."
 
  
 +
:“The [[column]] used as a form of monument has two advantages. First, it is a beautiful object&mdash;confessedly so. Secondly, it requires no study or thought; the formula being ready made to our hands.
  
 +
:“I object, as regards the first of these advantages, that the beauty of a [[column]], perfect as it is, is a relative beauty, and arises from its adaptation to the foundation on which it rests, and to the entablature which it is organized to sustain. The spread of the upper member of the capital calls for the entablature, cries aloud for it. The absence of that burden is expressive either of incompleteness, if the object be fresh and new, or of ruin if it bear the marks of age. The [[column]] is, therefore, essentially fractional&mdash;a capital defect in a monument, which should always be independent. I object to the second advantage as being one only to the ignorant and incapable. I hold the chief value of a monument to be this, that it affords opportunity for feeling, thought, and study, and that it not only occasions these in the architect, but also in the beholder.”
  
* [[Robert Mills|Mills, Robert]], March 20, 1825, pp. 89-90
+
<hr>
: "In the designs for the monument which I now have the honor to lay before you, I would recommend the adoption of the Obelisk form in preference to the Column. The details I have affixed to this species of pillar will be found to give it a peculiarly interesting character, embracing originality of effect with simplicity of design, economy in execution, great solidity and capacity for decoration, reaching the highest degree of splendor consistent with good taste.
 
: "The Obelisk form is, for monuments, of greater antiquity than the Column, as appears from history, being used as early as the days of Rameses, King of Egypt, in the time of the Trojan War....
 
: "The Obelisk form is peculiarly adapted to commemorate great transactions, for its lofty character, great strength, and furnishing a fine surface for inscriptions. There is a degree of lightness and beauty in it that affords a finer relief to the eye than can be obtained in the regular proportioned column."
 
  
 +
==Images==
 +
<gallery widths="170px" heights="170px" perrow="7">
  
* 1825, [[Solomon Willard|Willard, Solomon]] to George Ticknor, quoted in ___, 79,
+
Image:2086.jpg|Anonymous, [[View]] of Bunker’s Hill,in ''Gentleman’s Magazine'' 60, part 1 (February 1790): plate III, facing 140.
: "I have made another slight sketch of the [[obelisk]] you suggested. I have supposed that the monument would be enclosed by an iron [[fence]] and have sketched the frustums of pyramids, in the Egyptian style, at the angles, which may serve as accompaniments and also for a lodge, watch house, &c. The [[obelisk]] and base is as sketched before, with the addition of a broad platform and a subterranean entrance.  
 
  
" It has always seemed to me that any of the three figures which have been proposed, if well designed, would make a respectable monument. The [[obelisk]] I have always preferred for its severe cast and its nearer approach to the simplicity of nature than the others. The [[column]] might be more splendid. The character of the [[obelisk]], without a pedestal, seems to me to be strictly appropriate for the occasion and I think would rank first as a specimen of art and be highly creditable to the taste of the age."
+
Image:2083.jpg|Anonymous, “The Tomb of Warren,” ''The Analectic Magazine'' 11 (March 1818): 253.
  
 +
Image:0697.jpg|Lewis Miller, “Bunker Hill Monument, Boston,” in ''Sketches and Chronicles'' (1966), 147.
  
* __, Robert Mills, 88-
+
Image:2084.jpg|John A. Rolph after Hammatt Billings, ''Bunker Hill Monument'', 1842.
: "When the Bunker Hill Monument committee advertised for designs for the monument, I took a good deal of pains to study one which
 
should do honor to the memory of those worthies it was intended to commemorate, and prove an ornament to the city which it was to overlook. I went into some detail on the subject of monuments generally, and in sending them two designs, I recommended in strong terms the adoption of the Obelisk design, not only from its combining simplicity and economy with grandeur, but as there was already a column of massy proportions erected in Baltimore, we ought not, therefore, to repeat this figure, but construct one of equally imposing figure. I was then residing in South Carolina, and was at much trouble to forward the roll of drawings to their place of destination. I never heard anything on the subject of these drawings until it was announced that the committee had adopted the Obelisk form for the Bunker Hill Monument, and I was left to conjecture what part of my design was taken and what left, until some time after, when I saw that all the decorations were omitted, and the naked pillar preserved in all its original proportions. (By the way, I would observe that the committee have erred in omitting the simple decorations proposed in my design; the grand gallery about one-third the height of the shaft would have been useful as a lookout platform as well as presenting an appropriate decoration, as the outline of the gallery showed the monumental character used by the Egyptians, from which nation originated the obelisk form.)
 
  
" From the obelisk design being adopted, and my having recommended this form to them, I thought it was a courtesy due from the gentlemen to have dropped me a line of thanks for the trouble I had taken in the business, though they may have not awarded me the premium, as they may have made a design themselves, and simplified that sent, which however does not obliterate the idea. I would ask the favor of you, my dear sir, to see or inquire of any gentleman of the committee if there was any other design of the obelisk form presented for adoption to the committee with mine, and where this design came from, and if such design was offered, whether it was not made in Boston, or neighborhood, and if so, should not some credit be given to me at the distance I was, for suggesting the same idea? The design now carrying into execution bears all the proportions of that I sent them, and I ought reasonably to infer that some reference must have been had to my drawings. If the committee are not disposed to award me any credit for my design, I would thank you to procure my drawings, and when you have an opportunity forward them to me. The drawings were on a large scale and finished in oil colors, with a distant view of Boston in the back-ground
+
Image:2085.jpg|Nathaniel Currier after J. Fisher, ''[[View]] of Bunker Hill and Monument, June 17, 1843'', c. 1843.
  
* Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851, "The Washington Monument," quoted in Tuckerman 1853: 82, <ref> Tuckerman, 1853, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
+
Image:2088.jpg|A. L. Dick after William Henry Bartlett, ''Boston, and Bunker Hill. (From the East)'', after 1843.
: 82 "The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more. For this reason it was that I designed an [[obelisk]] for Bunker Hill, and urged arguments that appeared to me unanswerable against a [[column]] standing alone.....
 
: "The [[column]] used as a form of monument has two advantages. First, it is a beautiful object &mdash; confessedly so. Secondly, it requires no study or thought; the formula being ready made to our hands.
 
: "I object, as regards the first of these advantages, that the beauty of a [[column]], perfect as it is, is a relative beauty, and arises from its adaptation to the foundation on which it rests, and to the entablature which it is organized to sustain. The spread of the upper member of the capital calls for the entablature, cries aloud for it. The absence of that burden is expressive either of incompleteness, if the object be fresh and new, or of ruin if it bear the marks of age. The [[column]] is, therefore, essentially fractional &mdash; a capital defect in a monument, which should always be independent. I object to the second advantage as being one only to the ignorant and incapable. I hold the chief value of a monument to be this, that it affords opportunity for feeling, thought, and study, and that it not only occasions these in the architect, but also in the beholder."
 
  
==References==
+
Image:2087.jpg|Anonymous, ''Boston Massachusetts. [[View]] of Bunker Hill Monument, Charles.[town]'', c. 1848.
 +
</gallery>
  
 +
<hr>
  
 +
==Other Resources==
 +
[http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85018010.html Library of Congress Name Authority File]
  
 +
[http://www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm Bunker Hill website (National Park Service)]
  
 +
<hr>
  
 
==Notes==
 
==Notes==
 
<references/>
 
<references/>
  
[[Category: Sites]]
+
<hr>
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
==References==
 
 
 
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85018010.html
 
 
 
Bunker Hill website (National Park Service): http://www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunker_Hill_Monument
 
 
 
  
[[Category: Sites]]
+
[[Category: Places]]

Latest revision as of 21:42, August 16, 2021

Overview

Site Dates: 1826–1842

Associated People: Robert Mills 1781–1855, design competitor; Horatio Greenough 1805–1852, design competitor; Solomon Willard 1783–1861, design winner;

Location: Charlestown, MA · 42° 22' 34.86" N, 71° 3' 46.69" W

Condition: Extant

Other Resources: Getty TGN; LOC (Battle of Bunker Hill);

The Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts, commemorates a pivotal early battle in the American war for independence. It is the first colossal obelisk erected in the United States.[1]


History

Fig. 1, Lewis Miller, “Bunker Hill Monument, Boston,” in Sketches and Chronicles (1966), 147.
Fig. 2, Anonymous, “The Tomb of Warren,” Analectic Magazine 11 (March 1818): 253.

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775, on and around Breed’s Hill during the Siege of Boston. Nineteen years later, an 18-foot Tuscan pillar surmounted by a gilt urn was erected in memory of Dr. Joseph Warren (1741–1775), a hero of the battle, by the members of his Masonic Lodge [Fig. 2]. Bunker Hill became a pilgrimage site for patriotic tourism early in the 19th century. Public perception of its importance increased as a result of the well-publicized visit, in 1817, of the newly elected president James Monroe—a symbolic act of national healing following the divisive War of 1812.[2]

In 1823 a group of prominent Massachusetts citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association for the purpose of creating a more ambitious memorial commensurate with the battle’s national importance. The Association envisioned “a simple, majestic, lofty, and permanent monument, which shall carry down to remote ages a testimony . . . to the heroic virtue and courage of those men who began and achieved the independence of their country.”[3] In order to protect the battlefield from encroaching development as the local population grew, the Association’s standing committee purchased 15 acres on the slope of Breed’s Hill and authorized Solomon Willard, a stone worker and builder, to draw the plan for a 221-foot column.

Fig. 3, Anonymous, Boston Massachusetts. View of Bunker Hill Monument, Charles.[town], c. 1848.

The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a column had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. Robert Mills, an architect who had previously designed the Washington Monument in Baltimore, submitted plans for a column as well as an obelisk, expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and . . . fine surface for inscriptions.”[4] Mills specified that along with inscriptions, the monument was to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices—shields, stars, spears, and wreaths—which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the obelisk. Horatio Greenough (1805–1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an obelisk but in a far simpler form. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The obelisk has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.”[5]

Fig. 4, A. L. Dick after William Henry Bartlett, Boston, and Bunker Hill. (From the East), after 1843.

Following extensive debate over the architectural form best suited to communicate the heroic, memorial, and patriotic themes of the monument, the committee determined that the obelisk was “most congenial to republican institutions.”[6] Willard received the commission to construct the monument, which he originally designed with an Egyptian Revival base. Lack of funds required simplification of Willard’s design and the selling of most of the land purchased by the Association [Fig. 1]. Only the summit of the hill was preserved for the monument grounds.[7] Landscape improvements carried out between 1842 and 1847 included grading, planting trees and hedges, laying sidewalks, and installing iron fences [Fig. 3].[8]

The erection of the monument enhanced Bunker Hill’s popularity as a patriotic destination. As tourism increased over the course of the 19th century, it featured frequently in travel literature and the pictorial press, both as a subject in itself and as an immediately recognizable landmark in panoramic views of Boston [Fig. 4]. From the time of the monument’s official dedication in 1843, it also became a favorite site of civic ceremonies and firework displays on the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill and other patriotic occasions.

Robyn Asleson


Texts

  • Standing Committee of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, September 24, 1824, circular about Bunker Hill Monument (quoted in Wheildon 1865: 64–67)[9]
“The spot itself on which this memorable action took place, is extremely favorable for becoming the site of a monumental structure. . . . An elevated monument on this spot would be the first landmark of the mariner in his approach to our harbor; while the whole neighboring country, . . . with their rich fields, villages and spires; the buildings of the University, the bridges, the numerous ornamental country seats and improved plantations, the whole bounded by a distant line of hills and farming landscape which cannot be surpassed in variety and beauty, would be spread out as in a picture, to the eye of the spectator on the summit of the proposed structure. . . .
“In forming an estimate of the cost of the structure proposed, a single eye has been had to the principle which dictates its erection. Everything separated from the idea of substantial strength and severe taste has been discarded, as foreign from the grave and serious character both of the men and events to be commemorated. With this principle in view, it has been ascertained that a monumental column, of a classic model, with an elevation to make it the most lofty in the world, may be erected of our fine Chelmsford granite, for about thirty-seven thousand dollars. . . .
“The beautiful and noble arts of design and architecture have hitherto been engaged in arbitrary and despotic service. The Pyramids and Obelisks of Egypt ; the monumental columns of Trajan and Aurelius, have paid no tribute to the rights and feelings of man. Majestic and graceful as they are, they have no record but that of sovereignty, sometimes cruel and tyrannical, and sometimes mild: but never that of a great, enlightened and generous people. . . . Our fellow-citizens of Baltimore have set us a noble example of redeeming the arts to the cause of free institutions, in the imposing monument they have erected to the memory of those who fell in defending their city. If we cannot be the first to set up a structure of this character, let us not be other than the first to improve upon the example; to arrest and fix the feelings of our generation on the important events of an earlier and more momentous struggle, and to redeem the pledge of gratitude to the high-souled heroes of that trying day.”


  • Mills, Robert, March 20, 1825, in a letter to the Bunker Hill Monument Commission (quoted in Gallagher 1935: 204–6)[10]
“I have the honor to submit for your consideration and approval, a design for the Monument you propose erecting on the spot, where the Brave General Warren and his worthy associates fell; to commemorate their valor, and the gratitude of their Country. . . .
“In the design for the Monument which I now have the honor to lay before you, I would recommend the adoption of the obelisk form, in preference to the Column—the detail I have affixed to this species of pillar, will be found to give it a peculiarly interesting character, embracing originality of effect with simplicity of design, economy in execution, great solidity and capacity for decoration, reaching to the highest degree of splendor consistant with good taste. . . .
“The obelisk form is, for monuments, of greater antiquity than the Column as appears from history, being used as early as the days of Ramises King of Egypt in the time of the Trojan War—Kercher reckons up 14 obelisk that were celebrated above the rest, namely, that of Alexandria; that of the Barberins; those of Constantinople; of the Mons Esquilinus; of the Campus Flaminius; of Florence; of Heliopolis; of Ludorisco; of St. Makut, of the Medici of the vatican; of M. Coelius, and that of Pamphila. The highest on record mentioned, is that erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus in memory of Arsinoe.
“The obelisk form is peculiarly adapted to commemorate great transactions from its lofty character, great strength, and furnishing a fine surface for inscriptions—There is a degree of lightness and beauty in it that affords a finer relief to the eye than can be obtained in the regular proportioned Column.
“Our monument includes a square of 24 feet at the base above the zocle or plinth, and is 15 feet square at the top—Its total elevation is 220 feet above the pavement—The shaft is divided into four great compartments for inscriptive, and other decorations, which come more immediately under the eye by means of oversailing platforms, enclosed by balastrades, supported as it were by winged globes (symbols of immortality peculiarly of a monumental Character).
“A series of shields band round the foot of the shaft, representing the 13 States, which form’d the Federal union, as principal, having their arms sculptured on their face—A star, on a plain tablet in connection with the former, represents each the other states which now constitute our Union—the whole surmounted by spears and wreathes.
“A flight of stone steps, or a rising platform, surround the base, from whence the lower inscriptions are read—
“This is inclosed by a rich bronzed palisade—The entrance into the monument is from this platform, when a flight of stone steps, winding round a pillar, ascends to the top, and communicates with the several platforms. Between the galleries, on each face of the pillar, a wreath, hung on a speer, encircles the letter W, which is otherwise decorated and constitute apertures for lighting the interior of the Monument—over the Last wreath, and near the apex of the obelisk, a great star is placed, emblematic of the glory to which the name of Warren has risen—A tripod crowns the whole and forms the surmounting of the Monument—This tripod is the classic emblem of immortality.”


  • Willard, Solomon, 1825, in a letter to George Ticknor, member of the Bunker Hill Monument Association Standing Committee (quoted in Wheildon 1865: 79)[9]
“I have made another slight sketch of the obelisk you suggested. I have supposed that the monument would be enclosed by an iron fence and have sketched the frustums of pyramids, in the Egyptian style, at the angles, which may serve as accompaniments and also for a lodge, watch house, &c. The obelisk and base is as sketched before, with the addition of a broad platform and a subterranean entrance.
“It has always seemed to me that any of the three figures which have been proposed, if well designed, would make a respectable monument. The obelisk I have always preferred for its severe cast and its nearer approach to the simplicity of nature than the others. The column might be more splendid. The character of the obelisk, without a pedestal, seems to me to be strictly appropriate for the occasion and I think would rank first as a specimen of art and be highly creditable to the taste of the age.”


  • Mills, Robert, July 1, 1832, in a letter to Richard Walleck (quoted in Gallagher 1935: 102)[10]
“When the Bunker Hill Monument Committee advertised for designs for the Monument, I took a good deal of pains to study one which should do honor to the memory of those worthies it was intended to commemorate, and prove an ornament to the city it was to overlook. I went into some detail on the subject of monuments generally and in sending them two designs, recommended in strong terms the adoption of the Obelisk design, not only from its combining simplicity and economy with grandeur, but as there was already a column of massy proportions erected in Baltimore, we ought not, therefore, to repeat this figure, but construct one of equally imposing figure.”


  • Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851, “The Washington Monument” (quoted in Tuckerman 1853: 82)[11]
“The obelisk has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more. For this reason it was that I designed an obelisk for Bunker Hill, and urged arguments that appeared to me unanswerable against a column standing alone. . . .
“The column used as a form of monument has two advantages. First, it is a beautiful object—confessedly so. Secondly, it requires no study or thought; the formula being ready made to our hands.
“I object, as regards the first of these advantages, that the beauty of a column, perfect as it is, is a relative beauty, and arises from its adaptation to the foundation on which it rests, and to the entablature which it is organized to sustain. The spread of the upper member of the capital calls for the entablature, cries aloud for it. The absence of that burden is expressive either of incompleteness, if the object be fresh and new, or of ruin if it bear the marks of age. The column is, therefore, essentially fractional—a capital defect in a monument, which should always be independent. I object to the second advantage as being one only to the ignorant and incapable. I hold the chief value of a monument to be this, that it affords opportunity for feeling, thought, and study, and that it not only occasions these in the architect, but also in the beholder.”

Images


Other Resources

Library of Congress Name Authority File

Bunker Hill website (National Park Service)


Notes

  1. John Zukowsky, “Monumental American Obelisks: Centennial Vistas,” Art Bulletin 58 (December 1976): 574, view on Zotero.
  2. Sarah J. Purcell, Sealed with Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 106, 164, view on Zotero.
  3. George Washington Warren, The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1877), 47, view on Zotero; see also Purcell 2010, 195–99, view on Zotero.
  4. John M. Bryan, Robert Mills: America’s First Architect (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), 204, view on Zotero; Pamela Scott, “Robert Mills and American Monuments,” in Robert Mills, Architect, ed. John M. Bryan (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 133, view on Zotero.
  5. Henry T. Tuckerman, A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, Consisting of a Memoir, Selections from His Writings, and Tributes to His Genius (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1853), 82, view on Zotero.
  6. Purcell 2010, 199–200; see also Nathalia Wright, “The Monument That Jonathan Built,” American Quarterly Observer 5 (1953): 167–71, view on Zotero.
  7. William W. Wheildon, Memoir of Solomon Willard, Architect and Superintendent of the Bunker Hill Monument (Boston: The Monument Association, 1865), 58–224, view on Zotero; see also Solomon Willard, Plans and Sections of the Obelisk on Bunker’s Hill, with the Details of Experiments Made in Quarrying the Granite (Boston: Charles Cook, 1843), view on Zotero.
  8. Kristen Heitert, Archeological Overview and Assessment of Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Submitted to the Northeast Region Archeology Program National Park Service, Public Archeology Laboratory, January 2009, 38–39, view on Zotero.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Weildon 1935, view on Zotero.
  10. 10.0 10.1 H. M. Pierce Gallagher, Robert Mills, Architect of the Washington Monument, 1781–1855 (New York: Columbia University Press: 1935), view on Zotero.
  11. Tuckerman 1853, view on Zotero.

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History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Bunker Hill Monument," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Bunker_Hill_Monument&oldid=41514 (accessed June 29, 2022).

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