Otis House

How Did Beacon Hill Get Its Name?

Detail from map by William Burgis. Boston in New England, 1728.  Retrieved from the Library of Congress.


In 1634, the ruling General Court proclaimed that, “There shall be forthwith a beacon sett on the Centry Hill at Boston, to give notice to the country of any danger.” Rising sixty feet above the summit stood the beacon, a tall pole at the top of which was mounted an iron pot filled with combustibles. It was never lit, yet remained in place for a century and a half until 1789 when it blew down in a November storm.