Canopy Over Forefathers' Rock, 1863, Design Review

The structure now erecting over the Rock upon which the Forefathers landed, is an architectural canopy of granite, of which the annexed engraving represents one of the four faces.

Engraving of Plymouth Rock canopy

It may be described as consisting of four angle piers, decorated with three-quarter reeded columns of the Tuscan order, standing on pedestals, and supporting a composed entablature above which is an attic. Between the piers on each face is an open arch, so that the Rock is visible from all sides. In each face of the attic is to be a tablet for inscriptions. Above the rock, the canopy is finished on the inside with a domed ceiling, also of granite.

Engraving of Plan of The Canopy

The structure is surmounted with the scallop shell indicative of the pilgrim character of the enterprise of the Fathers. The canopy measures about fifteen feet square at its extreme points, and is about thirty feet high. The corner-stone was laid on the 2d of August, 1859, at the same time as the corner-stone of the National Monument; and the work is now cut in granite as high as the top of the columns.

The foundation, laid in the most substantial manner in cement, and forming one mass of solid masonry, contains about one thousand five hundred tons of Quincy granite.

The site selected for this monument, as the only suitable one not already preoccupied, is on one of the highest elevations in the village of Plymouth, and is approved by all unprejudiced and disinterested persons. It is directly west of the anchorage of the " May-Flower," and commands a fine view of the harbor and village of Plymouth, and all the places of interest connected with the early history of the Pilgrims.

Engraving of Ground Plan

Rev. E. N. Kirk, D. D., thus speaks of it: -- "I approve the site selected for the principal monument. The Rock itself is, in rigid historical accuracy, the site for a monument commemorating the landing of the exiles. But while it is on too low a level for the best artistic and moral effect. -- too much surrounded with the more rude and ordinary scenes of life, -- there are other considerations which justify the selection of a more prominent and conspicuous position. The very object of the monument is ideal and commemorative. It is designed to carry the mind to the past, not specifically to the spot where their little skiff first touched the main land. "'Tis all hallowed ground;" and of the whole sacred scene of primitive Pilgrim life, we should select the most favorable for general effect. But the Rock, or even Cole's Hill, occupies too low a level as well as too contracted a space for this purpose. This monument must be the commanding object to the traveller as he approaches the hallowed scene of the Pilgrims' sufferings, toils, and prayers, -- the cradle of an Empire."

1. "Canopy Over Forefathers' Rock," The Illustrated Pilgrim Memorial, 1863, page 40.

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