Monument Square, Charlestown : seeking timelessness in a temporal world
Author(s)Katz, Ellen Jane
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
MetadataShow full item record
The Bunker Hill Monument, a 220-foot high granite obelisk built from 1825-1842, stands on a grassy mound known as Monument Square. Today the situation of the monument incites curiosity, standing as it does amidst brick and wooden rowhouses in a residential area of Charlestown, Mass. The Bunker Hill Monument Association (BHMA), builder of the obelisk, was also responsible for the planning and development of 15 acres surrounding it. These memorial builders - lawyers, doctors, and businessmen - became investors in America's first commercial railroad, part of the network moving the granite blocks. They also became real estate developers - to help pay for the expensive monument, the BHMA sold part of the "sacred" battlefield as houselots. Many factors, some familiar today and others quite remote, shaped the monument and its surround: technological innovation and capitalism, land-use economics, and at least one special-interest group - the freemasons. Through historical research and visual analysis, this thesis studies these factors as part of the process through which the product, Monument Square, emerged. The construction time period of the monument coincided with a fundamental change in Charlestown housing: the transition from semi-rural detached homes to the rowhouse. The houses of Monument Square, built on the land sold by the BHMA, afford the opportunity to study communal agreement as to the form of this newly emerging urbanity. This agreement is sometimes explicit, as in the innovative deed restrictions, but also implicit in aspects of house design not covered by the restrictions. The durable monument and its open square have helped to maintain the robustness of the area, which escaped the widespread clearance which occurred in other parts of Charlestown during the 1960's.
Thesis (M. Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1983.MICROFICHE COPY AVAILABLE IN ARCHIVES AND ROTCHIncludes bibliographical references (leaves 104-106).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology