J. Dennis Robinson, historian and TMS Architects’ guest blogger, brings us an interesting piece today about Edward Tuck, founder of the first graduate school of business at Dartmouth, and leaves us with an interesting question to ponder…is an obelisk architecture?  Read on and let us know what you think!

Architects need more clients like Edward Tuck. When he decided to pay for a new home for the nonprofit New Hampshire Historical Society, he told the designer that money was no object. He wanted a building that would stand the test of time. He got a “pure-Greek” building in Concord, NH with granite walls and marble floors. His “Temple of History” opened in 1911 and is now the society library building.

A wealthy banker, railroad investor, and expatriate living in France, Tuck had previously started the nation’s first graduate school of business at Dartmouth. He named the program in honor of his father Amos Tuck of Exeter, a founder of the Republican Party.

In 1914, a friend suggested that Edward might want to honor a distant ancestor too. Rev. John Tucke had been a beloved minister to the isolated fishing families on the Isles of Shoals prior to the American Revolution. Rev. Tucke died in 1773 and his gravestone on Star Island was cracking and almost unreadable. Again, Tuck said, spare no expense.

The result is the “tallest tombstone in New Hampshire.” At 46.5 feet the granite obelisk is a mini-version of the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. Rev. Tucke’s bones are interred in the bottom. The memorial can be seen from the beaches of Rye on the mailand seven miles away.

The monument was fashioned in pieces, shipped to the flat rocky island, and assembled within six months. Eight horses could not pull the heavy granite blocks to the building site and an engine had to be employed. The blocks — pegged, welded, and cemented together — fit perfectly. Expert stonecutters inscribed a 600-word epitaph to Rev. Tucke on one polished face of the memorial.

Is an obelisk architecture? Archdaily.com has a whole section devoted to monuments and memorials. “Monumental architecture” according to one definition, is a space built by many people for use by the public. Another definition notes that a tomb built to honor a single person at a burial site does not qualify as architecture and is considered statuary.

What do you think? Is the Tucke Monument architecture worth noting, or simply a really big tombstone?

Click here to read and listen to more about the Tuck family and their philanthropy

J. Dennis Robinson is editor and owner of the popular Web site SeacoastNH.com and author of 11 books about history. His latest titles are UNDER THE ISLES OF SHOALS about archaeology and AMERICA’S PRIVATEER about the War of 1812. He is currently finishing a book about the 1873 Smuttynose Island murders due out November 4, 2014. You can “follow” his history postings on Facebook.

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