William W. (William Willder) Wheildon.

Memoir of Solomon Willard, architect and superintendent of the Bunker Hill monument online

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CpTesented to



BY THE



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JUNE 17, 1865.



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MEMOIR



OF



SOLOMON WILLARD



[PKESENTATION COPY.]




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MEMOIR



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SOLOMON WILLAB.D,



ARCHITECT AND SUPERINTENDENT



OF THE ' ' '• .



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BUNKER II it'L rf N. IJ: ]\i E N T



BY WILLIAM W'WHEILDON.



. . " But the work is done ; and posterity ought to know tliat they

are more indebted to Solomon Willard than to any other person for the
monument." — [Amos Lawrence.

. . . . "The merits of this noble - spirited man deserve permanent
record. — [Professor Packard.



PREPARED AND PRINTED
BY DIRECTION OF THE MONUMENT ASSOCIATION

1865. ^



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Entered accoraiE^4o Act of Congress, in the year 1865,

B%,AyiLLiAM AV. Wheiltion,

In the Clerk's Office of the 'District Court of the District of Massachusetts.



TO THE



LADIES OF BOSTON AND VICINITY,

BY AVIIOSE PATRIOTIC EFFORTS AND PERSONAL SACRIFICES,



THE



fmnlier Dill Poiuimcnt ^isoxi^ition



■WA8 ENABLED TO COXIPiLFTE






THAT M A J EJg T i <.' M $ >f,0 R t A:.]^
To the Principles and Briivcr^-of tlie Fatliers,



IN 'fHE ERECTION OF WHICH

SOLOMON WILLARD,

AS ARCUITECT AND SUPERINTENDENT,

BY HIS GENIUS, SKILL AND LABOR, GRATUITOUSLY RENDERED,
SO LARGELY CONTRIBUTED,

THIS MEMOIR

I s

RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.



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AUTHOirS NOTE.



It will be seen by reference to the published proceedings of the
Bunker Hill Monumkxt Association, for June, 18G1, that a com-
mittee was then appointed to prepare a Memoir of Solomon Wil-
LARD, the Architect and Superintendent of the Monument and one
of the earliest and largest contributors to the work.'-

It was thought by the Association that Mr. Willard's eminent
and unrequited services in its behalf, and his extraordinary devo-
tion to the work which they had inaugurated, entitled him to the
distinctive honor proposed. A brief notice of his life, perhaps
a short analysis of his character,^ and a mere statement of
the services specially rendered by him, was at first all that was
contemplated ; but it soon appeared to the Committee that a nar-
rative of his life ; of the self-education and self-elevation which he
accomplished ; of the industry, economy and exemplary habits
which lie cultivated ; of his liberal, public-spirited and magnani-
mous conduct, as well as a detailed account of his labors in relation
to the Bunker Hill Monument, in every stage and step of its pro-
gress, and which did so much to secure its completion, was due to
him, would meet the approval of the association and at the same
time furnish, in the life of an excellent and worthy man, an exam-
ple of industry, perseverance and fidelity, which would be profita-



* William W. AVhciMuii, Anius A. Ldwreiice, Uriel Crocker, Nathl. Cotton,
and F. H. Stimpson, Committee.



6 author's note.

ble to the youth of the country and a bond of faith to the faithful.
They have not hesitated to act upon this conviction, and with such
means as were open to them, attempt the performance of the work
proposed.

The reader will not fail to observe that the narrative of Mr.
Willard's life, for many years, is so intimately connected with the
progress and history of the monument, that a detailed account of
the one is necessarily the history of the other. Even during the
periods of suspension, and when Mr. Willard was oihcially dis-
charged from the service of the association, he was repeatedly con-
sulted and called upon for information and advice in relation to
the work, its resumption or its completion. For this and other
reasons, it has been thought best to pass over the periods of sus-
pension, in order to give, in a connected form, the narrative of the
building of the monument, resuming the personal history after the
completion of that great work.

There are two matters connected with the erection of the monu-
ment, in regard to which it was desirable that justice should be
done to Mr. Willard without doing injustice to any other party. —
These relate to the authorship of the design and the name of the
architect — -two matters that have been controverted. The author-
ship of the design has been denied to him and earnestly claimed
for another ; and the plate under the corner-stone bears the name of
a gentleman as architect who never had anything to do with the
planning or execution of the work, and does not bear the name of
Mr. Willard. Although these were matters of more or less notori-
ety during the progress of the work, Mr. Willard spoke of them
only on one occasion, never preferring any claim in his own behalf ;
and, as the real and only architect, with his own hands, placed
the untruthful deposit under the present corner-stone, without a
murmur of displeasure. Few men, we think, with less faith in the
justice of a final public judgment, would have passed these matters
over in silence.

In the course of the narrative, wherever it has been practicable
to do so, the author has preferred to allow all parties to speak for
themselves, quoting letters not intended for the public eye, rather
than using language of his own ; and very rarely has he taken the



author's note. 7

liberty of changing a word or making any correction in style. This
rule has been applied particularly to Mr. Willard and his letters ;
and most of the statements made are in the words of their au-
thors or the record. In one or two instances, the chronological
progression of the narrative suflFcrs some violation, but it was
thought better to submit to this irregularity than to anticipate
reliable authorities and disturb other connections.

In regard to the preparation of the memoir, the author deems it
only justice to himself to say that it has been prepared at moments
of time taken from other duties, or while making daily passages
in the railroad cars to and from a residence out of the city. It may
also be interesting to some readers to know that the setting of the
type for the entire volume, reading proof-sheets, &c., have been
performed by him in the same way — portions of the work having
been composed in type without any previously written copy.

The press work and printing of the plates, have been done at
the office of Messrs. George C. Eand & Avery, to whom personal
acknowledgments arc due for many kindnesses during its progress.

The materials used in the preparation of this volume have been
obtained from papers and books of Mr. AVillard, furnished by his
brother and administrator, Mr. Cephas Willard of Petersham ; from
a portion of the letters and papers of the late Mr. Amos Lawrence ;
and from the records of the Monument Association. The author
is also indebted to Mr. G. Washington Warren, President of the
Association, for the use of valuable papers, and to various individ
uals who were personally ac({uainted with Mr. Willard, for facts
and information which have been of service.

^Y. w. w.

May 1st, 1865.



STATEMENT OF CONTENTS. 9



STATEMENT OF CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.
Introductory — Boston.

Mr. Willard not a native of Boston ; Liberal and generous character of the
people of Boston ; Their encoui'agcment of worth and merit ; Eminent
names in the history of the city ; Mr. Willard belongs to the class of
" self-made" men ; The value of such men and the lessons they leave to
the young ; Mr. Willard's cultivation, &c. 17 — 20

CHAPTER n.

Mr. Will.\rd's Ancestors — His Early Life.

His coming to Boston — Birth and parentage ; His ancestry ; Major Simon
Willard, from England ; His .arrival in this country, in 1G34 ; His public
character and services ; His death at Cliarlestown ; Major Willard Moore at
Bunker Hill ; Rev. Samuel Willard, President of Harvard University ; His
personal characteristics ; Solomon Willard's Early Life ; His employments
and ingenuity ; His perseverance and personal characteristics. 21 — 26

CHAPTER HL

His Employment in Boston.

Commenced as a Carpenter ; His economy and success ; Work on the Exchange
CoflFee House ; Improvement of his mind and purchase of Books ; Working
as a Draughtsman and Carver in wood ; Work for Peter Banner and Charles
Bulfinch, architects ; Carving of a Colossal Eagle for the Custom House ;
The Eagle on the Beacon Hill Monument ; The Beacon and Monument ; Re-
erection of the Beacon Hill Monument suggested — Mr. AVillard's progress in
Carving ; Carving of figure-heads and a bust of Washington. 27 — 33



10 STATEMENT OF CONTENTS.

CH.U'TER IV.

Visits to the South — Statue of Washington.

Mr. Willard Tisits the South ; Spends three months in Richmond, engaged in
Carving, &c. ; Also at Baltimore and New York ; Proposed Statue of Wash-
ington ; Model in Wax after Houdon's Statue at Richmond ; Destroyed in
its transportation from Richmond to Boston, and the undertaking relinquish-
ed ; Chantrey's Statue at the State House ; Visit to Mr. Rush at Philadel-
phia ; Drawing of the " Water Nymph" ; Mr. Rush's compliment ; Al-
pheus Carey's opinion of Mr, Willard. 34 — 37

CHAPTER V.
Modelling — The Capitol at Washington.

Letter from Mr. Charles Bulfinch ; Visit to Washington ; Model of the Capi-
tol ; Exhibited to Mr. AVillard's friends at Washington, (not Boston, as in the
text) ; Invitation to carve the ceilings of the Congressional Rooms declined ;
Rooms in New York ; Models of the Pantheon and Parthenon. 38 — 41

CHAPTER VI.
Carving in Stone — St. Paul's Church — Teaching.

New studies ; Carving marble panels for Mr. David Sears ; Stone work on St.
Paul's church ; Its portico and pediment ; Proposed Scripture piece ; the
U. S. Branch Bank at Boston ; Teaching ; Designing and building Suffolk
County Court House. 42 — 44

CHAPTER VII.

New Heating Apparatus — The Hox-Air Furnace.

Pursuits in Boston ; Building and warming houses ; Franklin's fire-place
and Count Rumford's cookuig range ; Use of Sea coal ; Development of
coal in this country ; Invention of a hot-air furnace, and its introduction ;
En^sh inventions ; Furnaces for the capitol at Washington. 45 — 51

CHAPTER Vm.
Boston Mechanics' Institution.

Harmony between the Mercantile and Mechanical professions ; The spirit of
the Revolution exemplified in the formation of the Mechanics' Institution ;
Ofiicers and members ; Mr. Willard one of the Vice Presidents ; Mr. Ever-
ett's lecture, 1827 ; Mr. Webster's lecture, 1828 ; After ten yeare of exist
ence its effects given to the Mass. Charitable Mechanic Association. 52 — 57



STATEMENT OF CONTENTS. 11

CHAPTER IX.

IMr. Willard's great work — Bunker Hill Monument.

His idea of the work and devotion to it ; Incorporation of the Banker Hill
Monument Association ; Address to the Public ; Plans for the monument ;
Mr. Willard elected a member of the Association ; Circular of the Standing
Committee ; jMeasures to obtain subscriptions ; Address to the Selectmen of
the towns in the Commonwealth. 68 — 69

CHAPTER X.

Selection op a Design for the Monument.

Designs by Mr. Willard ; The corporation propose a monument 220 feet high ;
Another plan by Mr. Willard, for public exhibition ; Premium offered for a
design ; Thanks to Mr. Willard for his plans ; Letter from ]Mr. Everett and
reply ; Discussion of a design ; First, Second and Third Committees ; Final '
Report on the subj'ect ; Letter from Mr. Willard ; Report of Building com-
mittee ; Dimensions of the proposed obelisk. 70 — 81

CHAPTER XI.

Authorship of the Design for the Monument.

Imperfect account of the proceedings respecting the design ; The premium not
awarded ; Employment of Alexander Parris ; Letter to George Ticknor ;
Inscription plate and the name of the architect on it ; Robert Mills's letter
and claim ; Remarks on the subject. 82 — 92

CHAPTER XII.

Ceremony of Latino the Corner-Stone.

Mr. Willard not engaged ; Presence of General Lafayette ; National pride and
popular interest ; Numbers of people assembled ; Procession ; Oration by
Daniel Webster ; The corner-stone. 93 — 97

CHAPTER Xni.

Election of Architect and Superintendent.

Mr. Willard chosen October, 1825, by the Building Committee ; His qualifica-
tions for the work ; The contract with him ; His letter to George Ticknor,
proposing a plan for doing the work ; His "salary" and preparations for
commencing the work. 98 — 106

CHAPTER XIV.

Purchase of the Bunker Hill Quarry.

Mr. Willard's explorations for a quarry ; His idea of the work ; Purchase of
the Bunker Hill Quarry ; Its distance from Bunker Hill ; Remarks of the
Building Committee on the purchase ; Estimate of a quarry ; The Dh-ector's
estimate of an architect. 107 — 112



12 STATEMENT OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XV.

The Railway Enterprise and Contract.

Introduction of the Railway system into the country ; Petition for an act of
Incorporation ; Act approved by the Governor, 1826 ; The contract to carry
the stone to Charlestown ; Dissatisfaction with the Railway. 113 — 118

CHAPTER XVI.
Preliminary work on the Monument.

Preparations for proceeding with the work ; Opening and clearing the ledge,
and making roads ; Expenses of dressing stone ; Expiration of the archi-
tect's engagement ; His letter and plans for the work ; A meeting of the
building committee at Quincy, and satisfaction with the work. 119 — 123

CHAPTER XVII.
New Contract and Instructions.

The new contract with the Architect on a salary ; His intention to have his ex-
penses paid and not a salary ; Instructions for the work. 124 — 127

CHAPTER XVIII.
Misunderstanding and Reconciliation.

It is not intended to revive misunderstandings ; Various causes of dissatisfac-
tion ; The architect gives up the work ; Note from Amos Lawrence and his
reply ; Letter from General Dearborn ; The architect I'eturns to the work ;
Subscriptions of the architect and the workmen. 128 — 134

CHAPTER XIX.

Legislative aid to the Monument.

Extract from the message of Governor Eustis ; Grant of the Legislature in
hammering stone at the State Prison ; Authority to the corporation to take
land for its purposes ; The cannons " Hancock" and " Adams" deposited in
the monument ; The legislative grant changed to a grant in money : Fun
among the dealers in lottery tickets in Boston. 135 — 140

CHAPTER XX.

Contracts and work on the Monument.

The making of several contracts for different portions of the work ; Pro-
gress of the work in 1827 ; The cost of a course stated ; Experiments and
cost of the work ; Progress in 1828 ; Vote complimentary to the architect ;
Letter from Amos Lawrence ; The architect's original plans. 141 — 154



STATEMENT OF CONTENTS. 13

CHAPTER XXI.

SCSPENSIOX OF THE WORK DISCHARGE OF Mr. WiLLARD PROPOSED

Sale of the Land.

Progress of the work and the conclusion arrived at ; Disadvantage of inade-
quate means ; The Land mortgaged and the work suspended ; Annual meet-
ing of the Association, 182'J ; New Building Committee ; Letter from Gen-
eral Dearborn to the architect ; Laying out the Land ; Amos Lawi'euce's de-
sire to save the whole battle-field ; His remarks on the subject. 155 — IGl

CHAPTER XXII.

Difficulties in Enterprises — Plans for the prosecution op

THE Work — 1830.

Difficulties and obstacles in enterprises ; Probable mistake of the Directors ;
Plans for resuming the work ; Mrs. Sarah J, Hale's effort and its failure ;
Address of Edward Everett and a new appeal to the legislature ; Pamphlet
list of contributors and act of incorporation. 162 — 160

CHAPTER XXIII.

Interruption in the Government — Efforts of the Mechanics'
Association — 1831 — 1833

Annual meeting, 1831 ; Eruption of a political party into the association ; They
lefl the work as they found it ; Annual meeting, 1832 ; Elforts of the Me-
chanics' Association ; Mr. Evei'ett's Address, 1833. 167 — 172

CHAPTER XXIV.

Report of the Committee — Me. AVillard's Review of it.

Report of the sub-committee of the Meclianics' Association ; Its statements re-
viewed by the architect in a letter to Mr. Sullivan. 173 — 185

CHAPTER XXV.

Effort of the Mechanics' Association — Sale of the Land :

1834 to 1839.

Recommencement of the work ; IMr. Willard again employed ; Report on the
sale of the land ; Land sold. [JVo/e .- Visits of President Jackson and Hen-
ry Clay to Bunker Hill. Addressed by Mr. Everett.] 186 — 190

CHAPTER XXVI.

New efforts for completing the Monument — The Ladies' Fair :

1840 to 1843.

Unfinished condition of the monument felt by the people ; Authority for holding
a Fair ; The Ladies' Fair and its successful results ; Donations of Amos Law-
rence and Judah Touro ; Raising the cap-stone. 191 — 196



14 STATEMENT OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXVII.

Celebration of the Completion of the Monument — 1843.

Celebration of 1843 ; President Tyler and his Cabinet present ; Mr. Webster's
Oration — Extracts ; " The work is done," &c. Amos Lawrence. [JVbfe :
Death of Hugh S. Legare and Phineas Johnson.] 197 — 203

CHAPTER XXVIll.

Cost op the Bunker Hill Monument.

Considerations on the cost of the Monument ; Colonel Baldwin's estimate and
Mr. Willard's remarks upon it ; His statement of the actual cost of the work ;
Remarks from his published book. 204 — 213

CHAPTER XXIX.
Location and Description of Bunker Hill Monument.

Charlestown a peninsula with three hills ; Location of the monument and the
views from the hill ; Its object and purposes ; Description of the monument
and its parts ; The completed monument satisfactory to the Directors ; Its
height and the dimensions of its parts. 214 — 224

CHAPTER XXX.
Mr. Willard as Architect and Builder — 1824 — 1835.

His duties at the quarry and the hill ; U. S. Branch Bank ; The monument at
Concord ; Rev. Dr. Ripley ; Norfolk County Court House ; Harvard Monu-
ment ; Mr. Willard in the Stone business ; Survey of a railroad to Brattle-
borough ; Building of Bowdoin-strcet church ; Contracts in New Bedford ;
Building of the Court House in Boston. 225 — 230

CHAPTER XXXL

New York Merchants' Exchange — 1836 — 1841.

Contract for Stone and correspondence ; Organization of workmen on stone
work ; Management of the quarry ; Prejudice among the dealers ; Visit of
the President of the Exchange Company to the quarry ; Number of work-
men employed and amount of stone quarried ; Number of columns and their
cost ; Completion of the work ; Visits to New York. 231 — 237



STATEMENT OF CONTENTS. 15

CHAPTER XXXIII.

The Stone Business — Mr. Willard as a Farmer.

Objects in engaging in the Stone business ; Jealousy of dealers ; Success of his
efforts in introducing Granite ; Boston Merchants' Exchange ; The Hall
Cemetery; Engaging in Agricultural pursuits. 238—242

CHAPTER XXXIV. '

Introduction of Granite and Machinery.

Use of large blocks of Granite and improvement in architecture ; Dry Docks,
Astor and Tremont Houses, Blocks of Stores, &c. ; Introduction of machin-
ery, (with illustrations, 1, 3, 4 and 5.) 243 — 249

CHAPTER XXXV.

Closing Labors of Mr. Willard's Life — Hi3 death.

Continued residence in Quincy ; Granite paving-stones ; Gliddon's Lectures ;
Savings Bank in New York ; Town House in Quincy ; School house in West
Quincy ; Building a road to the " new state" — the last labor in which Mr.
Willard engaged ; His sudden death at the age of 77 years 8 months ; His
funeral obsequies ; Respect of his townsmen towards him. 250 — 255

CHAPTER XXXVL
Personal Appearance and Character of Mr. Willard.

His thoughtful and studious habits ; Faithfulness ; Standing as a workman ;
Cultivation of liis intellectual and physical faculties ; Personal appearance ;
The charge of eccentricity ; Interest in West Quincy ; The " Rejected Col-
umn;" Evidences of his skill, industry and benevolence. 256 — 261



16 APPENDIX — ILLUSTRATIONS.



APPENDIX.



1. Beacon Hill Monument.

2. WiLLARD Memoir — Letter to the President of the

Monument Association.

3. First Eeport of the Committee.

4. Public Monuments in Massachusetts.

5. Statuary in Massachusetts.



ILLUSTRATIONS.



View of Bunker Hill Monument — From a Photograph.
View of Beacon Hill Monument — From a painting by Sully.



L Diagram of the First Course and Corner- Stone (•') of Bunker
Hill Monument.

2. Sectional View of Bunker Hill Monument.

3. Diagram of the Lifting Jack, — with side, interior and front

views of the same.

4. Diagram of the Pulling Jack, for removing large and heavy

blocks of stone.

5. Diagram of the Hoisting Jack, for loading columns, pilas-

ters and other heavy blocks.



MEMOIR



OF



SOLOMON WILLARD



CHAPTER I.



INTRODUCTORY — BOSTON.



Solomon Willard was not a native but a voluntary citizen
of Boston; and although at one time disposed to take up his
residence in another city, and actually locating himself there, he
soon returned to Boston as his most congenial home.

Bostonians are proud of their city, its history and its honor-
able names in the various walks of business, in public and pri-
vate life. Her citizens have been distinguished as patriots and
heroes, and professionally as lawyers, statesmen, clergymen, and
in the departments of art, science and literature. They are
known in history and biography, and bear a fame down to pos-
terity as enduring as language, which, whatever may be said of
the self-complacency of the people, will fofever justify the right
of the city to appreciate its own. It is a testimonial to her lib-
erality and the generous nature of her people that no distinctions
are made, in the award of merit or in the contest of excellence,
between native and voluntary citizens ; those of the household
and those Avho seek its shelter and its consideration. The road
3



18 MEMOIR OF SOLOMON WILLARD.

to distinction has been ever open to all competitors, titled or not
titled, and merit, made more apparent by the obstacles it has to
encounter, is assured of its position and its honor. Pretension
everywhere has its achievements and for a time revels in success,
but true worth always finds its appreciation and reward among
an intelligent people. It may not be entirely peculiar, but it is
deemed characteristic of the people of Boston, that those who
have come into her fold have found as ready employment, consid-
eration and honor, as those born into it. This is her early and
later history, and numerous illustrations, more or less conspicu-
ous, are to be found in her annals. Commendable as this may
be in her life and honorable to her judgment, her generosity and
her patriotism, it is almost too much to believe that mistakes or
omissions have not happened in which injustice has been done to
worthy motives and a reasonable ambition. But as the rule, en-
couragement and appreciation have been bestowed upon all who
have taken up their abode with her people, whether coming to
them over the hills of New England or the weaves of the Atlan-
tic. The guerdon of learning, the stamp of genius, the odor of
sanctity, the oriflamme of patriotism, have been recognized by the
citizens of Boston, more readily and more surely than any
hereditary claims to position or consequence, or the flaunting of
any token of imperial favor. And not this alone, not merely
achieved prominence or distinction, but humble effort, immature
merit, aspiring hopefulness, in science or art, in learning or la-
bor, have rarely failed to meet that encouragement w hich rightly
and earnestly directed effort is entitled to receive.

Boston has honored herself in this : The list of worthy names
which adorns her history, of men who have ornamented her so-
ciety, directed her councils, represented her in the state and fed-
eral governments, graced and honored her professions, promoted
her wealth and prosperity as merchants and mechanics, and who
have in a more than poetic sense, lived in her life, includes those
of many who were not born on her soil and inherited none of her
greatness though they now bear a proud share in it. Revere and



MEMOIR OF SOLOMON AVILLARD. 19

Franklin were her's ; Hancock and Otis were her's ; Samu-
el Adams and the Pliillipses, the Jacksons, the Sullivans and
the Lowells, were her's ; but the names of Warren, Adams,
Quincy, Dexter, Gcrrj, Mason, Story, Webster, Bowditch,
Choate, the Lawrences and others, and many more among
the living, are her's only by voluntary residence and adoption :
in the whispered words of another to our private ear, " they had


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Online LibraryWilliam W. (William Willder) WheildonMemoir of Solomon Willard, architect and superintendent of the Bunker Hill monument → online text (page 1 of 21)