Circling the Square

Old Granary

If small children knew that at this very minute Paul Revere and Mother Goose were sharing the same plot of ground, they would be sadly disillusioned. But if they took the trouble to walk down Tremont Street past Park Street Church and look in to the left, they could see the place for themselves--the Old Granary Burial Ground, where the tombs of Paul Revere and Mrs. Mary Goose, who wrote the famous verses for her grandchildren, lie only 50 feet apart.

Someone once remarked that "there are more people buried in Old Granary who are known to more people than are buried in any other cemetery in the country," and he was probably right. Visitors are often disappointed that the conspicuous granite obelisk bearing the name "Franklin" is Benjamin Franklin's parents, not himself; but there is ample compensation for Ben's absence. Around the Franklin memorial are scattered the graves of such patriots as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and James Otis, as well as ten early Massachusetts governors and the victims of the Boston Massacre.

There are other less illustrious but equally interesting personages in Old Granary: Elisha Brown, for instance, who in 1769 barricaded himself in his home and for 17 days successfully "oppofed a whole Britifh Regt. in their violent attempt to FORCE him from hif legal habitation." And there is the tomb of Benjamin Woodbridge, who died in the first duel fought in Boston, after quarreling with his friend over a game of cards. The friend skipped the country in a British vessel and died of grief in France.

Old Granary, named for the town granary which stood where Park Street Church is now located, had its share of troubles. In the old days, underground springs used to fill up the graves with water from time to time, causing the Town Fathers endless drainage worries. And then there were Captain Adino Paddock's elms. Captain Paddock decided Old Granary needed to be dressed up, so he imported 16 elm trees from England and planted them along the cemetery. They were his pride and joy, but unfortunately the youths of Boston town could not resist swinging on the limbs. The Captain once advertised a reward for "the Person or Persons that on Thursday night last cut and hacked one of the trees opposite his House . . ." Another time, espying a boy shaking one of the saplings, Captain Paddock "darted out of his house opposite and served him as he had served the tree."

Nearby "Brimstone Corner," so called because brimstone was stored in the basement of the Park Street Church in 1812, is the windiest spot in the City. It seems one day the Devil and the Wind were making merry on Tremont Street, blowing dresses and parasols, when suddenly the Devil saw the open church door. "They need me in there," quoth he; "wait here." So the Devil went inside the church and never came out again. And that is why to this day the Wind, faithful to its evil friend, still blusters around Brimstone Corner and Old Granary.


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