View of the Pilgrim Monument with the Mayflower Compact bas-relief by Cyrus Dallin below, as seen from Bradford Street.

The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts, was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landfall of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the signing of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor.[1] This 252-feet tall campanile is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States[2] and is part of the Provincetown Historic District and Provincetown Museum.

In 1620, the Pilgrims spent five weeks exploring Cape Cod before they sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts. After spending weeks at sea, the Pilgrims resolved not to set foot on land until the Mayflower Compact was written and signed. A contest was held to design a structure to commemorate the Pilgrims' landing, and over 150 entries were submitted. The winning design, by Boston architect Willard T. Sears, was based upon the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, designed by Agostino and Agnolo da Siena in 1309.

On August 20, 1907, Theodore Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument.

In a ceremony on August 20, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt officiated at the laying of the cornerstone. After the monument's completion, President William H. Taft dedicated it at a ceremony held on August 5, 1910.[1]

Pilgrim Monument

The design was controversial because of its lack of any obvious relevance to the Pilgrim Fathers.[3] One Boston architect derided it, saying "If all they want is an architectural curiosity, then why not select the Leaning Tower of Pisa and be done with it?"[4] It was also noted that Boston itself already had a copy of the same tower; Boston's fire tower. The fire tower is made of brick like the Italian original, was built in 1892 by Edmund March Wheelwright, is 156 feet (48 m) tall, was originally designed as part of the central fire station and used as a firelookout, and later became part of the Pine Street Inn, a shelter for Boston's homeless.[3][5][6]

Interior of Pilgrim Monument, showing some of the 60 ramps used to climb most of the way up (there are 116 steps at the bottom and at the top).[1]

Pilgrims Monument in 2018

However, The Boston Globe noted that "The people of Provincetown are not at all enthusiastic about the design, but are glad enough to get almost any sort of monument," and quoted "an old sea captain" as saying: "I don't sympathize with all the kicking about the monument. It's good enough, and it has this in its favor, that it resembles many lighthouses on the coast of Portugal and on Portuguese Islands, and Provincetown, you know, is full of Portuguese."[7]

Tourists from around the world visit Provincetown to climb the monument and view the Provincetown Museum at its base.[2] The monument commemorates the Pilgrims, and the museum pays tribute to Provincetown's vibrant and historic maritime past. Provincetown residents take great pride in the structure.[2] Christmas lights are strung from the top of the monument to its base annually and are lit in November to much fanfare.[8] It remains lit nightly into January.

According to Edmund J. Carpenter in his book The Pilgrims and their Monument (self-published in 1911), the total expenditures in the planning and construction of the monument were $91,252.82,[9] equivalent to $2,276,000 in 2022.[10]

Provincetown is a New England town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, in the United States. A small coastal resort town with a year-round population of just under 3,000, Provincetown has a summer population of as high as 60,000.[11] Often called "P-town" or "P'town", the town is known for its beaches, harbor, artists, tourist industry, and its status as a vacation destination for the LGBTQ community.

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  1. ^ a b c "Pilgrim Monument Overview & FAQ". Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. 
  2. ^ a b c "About the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown Massachusetts" (in en-US). 
  3. ^ a b Bilis, Madeline (2014-11-13). "Throwback Thursday: How Two Massachusetts Towers Became Twins" (in en-US). Boston Magazine. 
  4. ^ "Call It Copy of Torre Del Mangia," The Boston Daily Globe, January 27, 1907, p. 7
  5. ^ Ralli, Tania (2005), "And Now A Word From Our Shelter: Ads Atop Pine Street Inn Help Pay To Restore It, But Some Ask Where It Will End", The Boston Globe, October 9, 2005, p. 1
  6. ^ Pine Street Inn (Boston) - Wikimapia
  7. ^ "Most Imposing Monument On The Atlantic Coast," The Boston Globe, August 18, 1907, p. SM12
  8. ^ "Provincetown Pilgrim Monument Lighting, Celebrating the Pilgrims Landing". 2018-09-20. 
  9. ^ Carpenter, Edmund J., The Pilgrims and their Monument (Cambridge, MA: Privately printed, 1911), 265.
  10. ^ Staff. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2012. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  11. ^ Town of Provincetown: