The Granary Burying Ground was established in 1660. Town officials set aside for burials part of what was then the Boston Common to help alleviate overcrowding in the nearby King's Chapel Burying Ground. The Granary Burying Ground took its present name in 1737 when a granary, a small building used to store grain, was moved to the site presently occupied by the Park Street Church. All interments ceased at the Granary in 1880.
The Granary Burying Grounds contains approximately 2,345 gravestones and tombs, although it is estimated that 5,000 people are buried at this site. The grave markers are predominantly slate, with a few in greenstone or marble.
The gravestones' original haphazard configuration was rearranged into straighter rows over to the years to accommodate both nineteenth-century aesthetics and the modern lawnmower. During the mid-nineteenth century, many landscaping projects were undertaken in the Granary, including the installation of pedestrian walkways and the planting of shade trees and shrubbery.
The remains of thousands of Boston citizens and notables lie within the walls of the Granary. Along with Massachusetts governors, mayors and clergymen, visitors will find the graves of three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine; Peter Faneuil, benefactor of the famed downtown Boston landmark; patriot and craftsman Paul Revere; James Otis, Revolutionary orator and lawyer; and five victims of the Boston Massacre. Near the center of the ground, a 25-foot-tall obelisk commemorates the tomb of Benjamin Franklin's parents.