Monday, June 15, 2009

Strange Monuments of New England

As I approach the home stretch in my 101 Ways to Say Died project, I'm on the lookout for another long-term blog series.

As I've traveled around, I've come across some fairly strange monuments that aren't gravestones, and have found them intriguing. Therefore, I am considering a new project on Strange Monuments of New England. I can't promise 101 parts, but we'll see how it goes.

I don't want to turn this into a Weird New England knockoff — I'm not looking for vampires, ghosts, and other forced zaniness. Rather, I'm interested in monuments and historical markers that tell me something about how New Englanders have constructed a New England identity through memorialization of historical events. I guess I'm not really looking for "strange" so much as "head-scratcher."

First up: Pilgrim Monument
Location: Provincetown, MA
Erected: 1907
Strangeness: When I think of Pilgrims, I definitely think of gargoyles.
According to the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum website, the tower is modeled after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy. Whoever wrote the website seems to think that this requires no further comment, but I think it's bizarre. English separatists were not great lovers of anything Italian. The selection committee may have had a soft spot for Victorian Gothic Revival, but it has nothing to do with the Pilgrims. This is an excellent example of thoughtless architecture.

While I contemplated this strange monument, Pete managed to catch a great photo of my "skeptical face."


Jen said...

i Love that idea...have you ever looked into the road markers? a few that i know of mark route one, but of course it was when it was the Boston Post Road, and there are markers between north stonington and norwich, there is a house that has one in the front yard that they place a flag next to, i didnt have the heart to tell them it was in fact a road marker, not a grave...

Robert J. said...

There's always the Viking tower.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Ooh, I didn't know that Massachusetts had a Viking tower, too. I've seen the windmill/tower in Newport, but not this one.

While I consider myself a loyal New Englander in nearly every respect, I am also something of a Newfoundland wannabe, so I must look down my nose at any attempt to wrest the Viking title away from L'Anse aux Meadows.

I never thought of looking at road markers — that's a good idea and I'll look into it!

MEGD said...

This monument has a twin - or at least a sibling - at Union Station in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was built to suggest the Torre del Mangia at the Palazzo Publico in Siena, Italy.

You can see a long range photo at

If you really look, you can see the gargoyles.

Robert J. said...

The Newport Viking tower is just a fantasy, of course, because we know that Leif Erikson's actually landing place was in Cambridge along the Charles River. A Harvard professor proved it, so we know it's true.