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Bunker Hill Monument

WELCOME to The Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument - BEST Massachusetts Places to PicnicThe Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. The 221 foot granite obelisk was erected between 1827 and 1843 in Charlestown, Massachusetts with granite from Quincy, Massachusetts, conveyed to the site via the first commercial railway in the United States, built specially for that purpose, followed by a trip by barge. There are 294 steps to the top.

The Bunker Hill Monument is not on Bunker Hill but instead on Breed's Hill, where most of the fighting in the misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place. The Monument Association, which had purchased the battlefield site, was forced to sell off all but the hill's summit in order to complete the monument.

The monument was erected to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major conflict between British and Patriot forces in the Revolutionary War, fought there June 17, 1775. The first monument at the site was created in memory of Mason and fallen Bunker Hill hero Dr. Joseph Warren in 1794 by King Solomon's Lodge of Masons and was initially an 18 foot wooden pillar topped with a gilt urn. 

In front of the obelisk is a statue of Col. William Prescott, another hero of Bunker Hill. A native of Groton, he coined the famous Revolutionary War phrase, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes". That order was popularized by stories about Bunker Hill. 

However, it is uncertain as to who said it, since various writers attribute it to Putnam, Stark, Prescott or Gridley. Doubts have also been expressed as to how original it was, and whether it was said at all.

An exhibit lodge built adjacent to the monument in the late 19th century houses a statue of Warren and a diorama of the battle. Bunker Hill is one of the sites along the Freedom Trail and is part of Boston National Historical Park.

The monument site reopened on April 2, 2007, after completion of a 3.7 million dollar renovation that included repairs, handicap accessibility improvements, and new lighting for the Bunker Hill Monument that was switched on for the first time on April 20, 2007. A new Bunker Hill Museum, across the street from the Monument, was dedicated on June 17, 2007, and includes many new exhibits.

Construction of the monument

William Ticknor, a well-known Boston lawyer and antiquarian, first suggested the memorial and an interested group of men met for breakfast at the home of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins. Among them were William Tudor, Daniel Webster, Professor George Ticknor, Doctor John C. Warren, William Sullivan, and George Blake. On May 10, 1823, the first public meeting was called. 

Each member subscribed five dollars, and on June 7, 1823, the Bunker Hill Monument Association was established and the work of raising money was begun. Famed nineteenth-century philanthropist Amos Lawrence contributed $10,000 to fund the building.

In the spring of 1825 the directors had purchased about 15 acres on the slope of Breed's Hill, but had not yet chosen a design. The first design committee consisted of Daniel Webster, noted engineer Loammi Baldwin, Jr., George Ticknor, Gilbert Stuart, and Washington Allston. 

One hundred dollars was offered for the best design; about 50 plans were presented in response. Choice was soon narrowed to two (a column and an obelisk) and a new committee was appointed to procure designs and estimate expenses for each. At the next meeting the majority voted that the obelisk designed by Solomon Willard be used. The directors laid the corner-stone on June 17, 1825. 

The Marquis de Lafayette performed the ceremony, Daniel Webster delivered the oration, and the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, conducted the services. Rev. Joseph Thaxter, who was wounded in the battle, officiated as chaplain at the ceremony, offering a prayer in thanks for the colonists' victory. Perhaps surprisingly, a railroad was created to carry granite to the monument for its construction. 

Work proceeded somewhat slowly at first, but the Granite Railway was completed in short order and became operational on October 7, 1826, as the first commercial railroad in the United States functioning as a common carrier.

Construction was frequently halted as available funds were depleted. To bring the project to completion the Monument Association in 1838 began to sell off the 10 acres (40,000 m2) of the battlefield as house lots, eventually preserving only the summit of Breed's Hill as the monument grounds. 

The capstone was laid on July 23, 1842 with the monument being dedicated on June 17 of the following year, again with a Daniel Webster oration.

The Bunker Hill Monument Association maintained the monument and grounds until 1919 when it was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

In 1976 the monument was transferred to the National Park Service and became a unit of Boston National Historical Park.

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