Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum
The Pilgrim Monument, a 252-foot stone tower in downtown Provincetown, commemorates the Mayflower’s first landing on Cape Cod. The monument’s architect, Willard T. Sears, based the monument on the fourteenth-century Torre del Mangia in Italy. Sears, who was born in New Bedford and lived in Boston, designed many prominent buildings in New England, including the Old South Church on Copley Square and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association began raising funds for a Pilgrim Monument in the late nineteenth-century. The association’s efforts attracted national attention and, in 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt travelled to Provincetown to lay the cornerstone for the monument. Three years later, when the tower was completed, President William Howard Taft delivered an address at its dedication ceremony.
The Pilgrim Monument marks the spot where the Mayflower landed in November of 1620. When those on board the ship first spotted the shores of Cape Cod, they had been at sea for three months. In that time, rough seas had blown the Mayflower more than 500 miles off course. For two days, the ship tried to continue south towards the Virginia Colony, but strong currents eventually forced them to set anchor in Provincetown Harbor. Safe in the harbor, the passengers on board the Mayflower drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact.
These passengers were an even mixture of Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England and entrepreneurs looking for riches in the New World. In the Mayflower Compact, both types of passengers agreed to work together to promote the order and survival of the community.
After agreeing to form a self-governing colony in New England instead of continuing on to Virginia, the passengers left the ship and began exploring the West End of Provincetown. They ultimately decided to establish Plymouth Colony on the other side of Cape Cod Bay, but Provincetown Harbor remained an important harbor and fishing grounds for the settlers.
In the Provincetown Museum at the base of the Pilgrim Monument, visitors can learn about the arrival of the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor, the maritime history of Provincetown and the construction of the monument.