Boston Art Commission

« back

Click on thumbnails to view additional images of this piece:
  • klBates.webv3_
  • klBates.webv_
  • klBates.webv2_

Katherine Lee Bates Memorial


John Francis Paramino




United States




Memorial Plaque








The poet, Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), is the author of “America the Beautiful,” one of our much loved alternative national anthems.  The Katharine Lee Bates memorial is a freestanding granite tablet inset with a bronze plaque on Agassiz Road overlooking the Muddy River and Stony Brook gatehouse. The sculptor, John Paramino, designed the plaque, dedicated in 1933. The memorial plaque includes the first verse, of her most famous poem. "America the Beautiful" has been called "an expression of patriotism at its finest." It conveys an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for the nation's extraordinary physical beauty and abundance, without triumphalism.

Bates was born in Massachusetts, Bates was the daughter of a Congregational pastor. After she graduated from Wellesley College, she remained on staff to teach literature. Bates wrote children’s books, textbooks and travel books about her trips to the Middle East and Europe.

In 1893, Bates taught a summer course at Colorado College. While hiking Pike’s Peak, she became overwhelmed with the scenery. She wrote down a four-verse poem originally titled “Pike’s Peak,” now known as “America the Beautiful.” When published in local newspapers, the poem became wildly popular. 

In her obituary, printed in Wellesley's "The Townsman", Mr. Bradford a member of the faculty wrote:

The death of Katharine Lee Bates means the passing away of one of the most notable citizens of Wellesley, one of the most important figures connected with Wellesley College, and much more than that, a considerable author and creative influence in the whole of American life.

Audio Description: