The Pilgrim Monument
August 26, 2012
The architectural structure of the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, Massachusetts is a monument that I see daily in the distance and have visited on field trips numerous times as a child. Even though I have grown up here I am not very familiar with the history and construction of this structure. This assignment inspired me to visit this part of our town’s history as an adult and learn more about it and its architecture. The Monument was built to commemorate the Pilgrims first landing in Provincetown, as many have often mistakenly believed that landing was first in Plymouth.
What I found interesting in researching this is that the exterior was modeled after the Torre Del Mangia in Sienna, Italy, while the interior was modeled after the St Marks Campanile in Venice, Italy. This monument is impressive in size alone, and the granite only adds to the appearance of grandeur. It is set on a hill and surrounded with a museum that also commemorates the pilgrims, and being on the tip of the cape can be viewed from just about any local beach from across the water, which also adds to its impressiveness.
At 252 feet tall now, this monument began construction in 1907 with the laying of its first cornerstone and was completed in 1909. The design group of Sears and Cummings was commissioned to construct a memorial to the site of the Pilgrims first landing and chose to build this magnificent structure overlooking the harbor. To this day, the Pilgrim Monument is the largest all granite structure in the United States and has been renovated only once.
Charles Cummings of the design group was a student of and fascinated with Italian and Gothic architecture and that can been seen reflected in this monument. This monument was actually the last structure that he designed before his death. Built with all granite, the monument is ominous over the town with its grayish appearance, narrow window slits and of course, gargoyles at the top the structure looking down over the town. It is a powerful structure to view from the bottom.
The exterior design was based on the Torre Del Mangia in Sienna Italy, and the interior design was modeled after the St Marks Campanile in Venice Italy. The term campanile is from the Italian language and literally means bell tower. The Pilgrim Monument itself does contain a bell, however it was constructed as to have one. The upper part of the Pilgrim Monument is strictly similar to that of the Torre Del Mangia which was designed by Agostino di Giovanni in 1338. While the interior on the Pilgrim Monument boasts 116 steps and 60 ramps which circle visitors to the top, bronze shutters and oak doors. This circular ascension of stairs and ramps is similar to that of the St Marks Campanile.
The design and appearance of the Pilgrim Monument has long been a source of contention. Many have commented wondering and being critical about why a bell tower was chosen to commemorate the Pilgrims first Landing and wondering why how that has any historical significance in regards to the intention. I have not found a concrete answer to that myself. The most I have found speculated that the large Portuguese population at the time was more familiar with this type structure. And that to fulfill the obligation of commemorating the Pilgrims, there is a large museum built around the structure.
Some other interesting facts about the construction of this monument are that…