The tallest man-made building in the State of Vermont commemorates the Battle of Bennington, a pivotal victory for American forces on the New England front of the American Revolution. On August 16, 1777, Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys, the New Hampshire Militia, and volunteers from Massachusetts, defeated British troops charged with capturing provisions stored at the Bennington military supply depot—the site where the monument stands today.
Designing of a monument to mark the site of a critical supply depot began in earnest in 1876 with the incorporation of the Bennington Battle Monument Association. Former Governor Hiland Hall spearheaded the commemoration efforts, fearing that “a smaller monument would remain unknown to the world and would dwindle into an obscure art gallery.” The third design of J. Phillip Rinn, a well-known Boston architect, developed into the 306-foot monument that we see today. Ground was broken on June 4, 1887 with a ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone on the 110th anniversary of the battle. The two-ton capstone was set on November 25, 1889. Bennington Battle Monument was dedicated on August 19, 1891 with a grand ceremony lead by President Benjamin Harrison and a gathering of tens of thousands onlookers.
The exterior of the stone monument is constructed of Sandy Hill dolomite, a blue-gray magnesian limestone quarried from the Town of Kingsbury, New York. The monument weighs approximately 19,000,000 pounds. J. Phillip Rinn also designed the 417-step interior stair. With its wide sloping treads and low risers, the Rinn stair made for a gradual climb to the monument’s observation level that provides spectacular open views of Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. The State of Vermont was deeded ownership of the Battle Monument, 1909 gift shop, and monument property in 1953 from the Bennington Battle Monument and Historical Association.
Bennington Battle Monument is the second tallest unreinforced masonry building in the United States; the first is the Washington Monument, which is the tallest unreinforced masonry building in the world.
Special Illumination Statement
Thank you for your inquiry about the Bennington Battle Monument. The monument shall not be illuminated for any special events. The current lighting system is outdated with 20+ years old electrical parts and lenses that are no longer available and are exceptionally pricey to upgrade. A conditions study is currently underway that shall provide direction on the full-system replacement of the electrical and lighting system in the coming years. Additionally, because of the monument’s immediate proximity to the William H. Morse Airport, special permitting is required that takes up to six months for review. The monument is also located within a residential neighborhood, requiring review and approval by the town. The recent illumination to honor the citizens of Ukraine was a one-time special illumination, which identified the many challenges and expenses for special illumination and thus the monument shall not be illuminated for special events.