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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES in MA » MASSACHUSETTS (all topics) » The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Pilgrim’s Monument, Provincetown, Massachusetts
The Original Dedication
The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Pilgrim’s Monument, Provincetown, Massachusetts

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By Peter F. Demers | July 29, 2010

On August 5, 2010, a 100th Anniversary celebration and parade will be held in Provincetown, Massachusetts to commemorate the dedication of the Pilgrim Monument, a tower built to mark the first landing place of the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrim Monument

The Pilgrim Monument is a leading tourist attraction that has helped to earn Provincetown a designation as one of this year's dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

A weeklong celebration beginning on July 31st will culminate in a rededication ceremony attended by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and other state and national dignitaries, a closing party concert with entertainment by both local and well known national entertainers, a parade and a grand finale fireworks display.

For most Americans, it is a commonly held belief that the Pilgrims first landed in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, they actually first landed in what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts in November of 1620. Here they spent 5 weeks exploring the tip of Cape Cod, before they sailed on to Plymouth in order to establish a colony with more ready access to fresh water. They also drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor, which established the rule of law for the new land.

In 1892, the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, Cape Cod’s oldest not-for-profit association, was formed to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World in Provincetown. After much deliberation, it was decided that a monument would be erected to stand on High Pole Hill, the highest place in town. A contest was held to design a structure to commemorate the Pilgrims' landing; the winning design, by Willard T. Sears, was based upon the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, designed by Agostino and Agnolo da Siena in 1309.   President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone on August 20, 1907 after sailing into Provincetown Harbor from his summer home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Construction was begun on June 18, 1908 and the first piece of stone weighing over 4,000 pounds was swung into place without ceremony.

The Parade

On August 5, 1910, President William Howard Taft dedicated the finished tower. The Pilgrim Monument is the Cape’s first building built to house a museum to educate the public about Provincetown’s role in Pilgrim history and American history opened at the base of the monument.   According to Edmund J. Carpenter in his book, ‘The Pilgrims and their Monument’ (1911), the total expenditures in the planning and construction of the monument were $91,252.82, the equivalent of over $2 million today.

The tallest all granite structure in the United States, all of the Pilgrim Monument’s granite came from a quarry in Stonington, Maine. The tower is 252 feet, 7½ inches tall and rises 350 feet above sea level. It contains over 116 steps that lead to the top of monument where a spectacular view awaits those who make the trek. On your way up, notice the 175 plaques listing the various Massachusetts cities and towns and their date of incorporation.   For you history buffs, don’t miss a visit to the Provincetown Monument Museum. Here you’ll find a treasure trove of information about the Monument, Provincetown and Cape Cod.

The Pilgrim Monument has a special place in the hearts of Cape Cod residents. Each year, a ceremony is held for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that results in the lighting of the Monument to resemble a huge Christmas tree that is visible for miles around.

All photos are copyright the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.

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