National Monument to the Forefathers.

National Monument to the Forefathers

Field review by the editors.

Plymouth, Massachusetts

The National Monument to the Forefathers -- also known as the Pilgrim Monument -- was the crowning achievement by 19th century New Englanders to pump up the Pilgrims and make everyone forget the colonists in Virginia (who arrived first) and the Vikings (who arrived even earlier). The effort largely succeeded, at least at the time. At 81 feet tall, it's the largest solid granite sculpture in the U.S.

It took 30 years to build. Its designer, Hammatt Billings, originally wanted something twice its size, but funding dried up during the Civil War. He was dead 15 years before it was finished.

At the time of its dedication on August 1, 1889, the monument was visible for miles atop a treeless promontory overlooking Plymouth Harbor. But 130+ years of tree growth has hidden it from the casual traveler, tucked away in a neighborhood of homes, a surprising anonymity for anything this big.

The monument is topped by a 36-foot-tall statue of Faith, who alone weighs 180 tons. Surrounding statues include Liberty, Peace, Tyranny, Education, Wisdom, Youth, Law, Mercy, Justice, and Morality. It's an iconographic overload, but every one of the monument's 13 statues is helpfully inscribed with its name. Thus, even people from non-allegorical times (such as the present) can understand it.

In 2012, Kirk Cameron's "Monumental" documentary brought this largely forgotten monument back into the public eye. According to the film, the Statue of Liberty, which had been completed three years earlier, was influenced by early designs for the National Monument to the Forefathers.

National Monument to the Forefathers

Pilgrim Monument

Address:
72 Allerton St., Plymouth, MA
Directions:
Pilgrim Monument. From Hwy 3/Pilgrims Hwy take exits 6 or 6A onto Samoset St. Drive east one mile, then turn left (north) onto Allerton St.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Plymouth Rock: Oldest Tourist Attraction in the USAPlymouth Rock: Oldest Tourist Attraction in the USA, Plymouth, MA - < 1 mi.
Peter Toth Indian HeadPeter Toth Indian Head, Plymouth, MA - 2 mi.
42nd Parallel Marker42nd Parallel Marker, Kingston, MA - 4 mi.
In the region:
Joe Tweet and the Giant Lobster, Wellfleet, MA - 33 mi.

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