Washington Tower, a landmark and popular attraction at Mount Auburn, was built from 1852-1854.
A feature of the original plan for the Cemetery, Washington Tower was slated for the highest summit at Mount Auburn, 125 feet above the Charles River. On July 6, 1852 it was agreed by the trustees that a tower would be built following the plans designed by the Cemetery’s President, Jacob Bigelow. Bigelow worked with architect Gridley J.F. Bryant on the Tower, built to honor the country’s first president, George Washington. It was completed in 1854.
The tower was architecturally significant for two reasons: it was a common motif in the English picturesque landscape that the Cemetery’s founders were trying to emulate; and it was a distinct landmark, something that could be seen from miles away. Bigelow modeled the Tower on the round towers of feudal ages, with battlements, a gallery, Gothic windows, and a spiral staircase. Both sides of the Quincy granite blocks that comprise the Tower were hammered smooth so that each makes a part of the inside and outside of the walls.
At 62-feet tall, the Tower provides a bird’s-eye view of the Cemetery, and an exceptional view of Boston. On a clear day, a visitor can observe the State House, Harvard, the Charles, and even the summit of Wachusett Mountain.
Washington Tower is open from April to October, weather-permitting.
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