In Shadows Lies Utopia

Monument to Dr. Horace Wells (1815-1848) in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut. Though he died a relatively young man, Wells made a lasting mark on medicine with his experiments with nitrous oxide. He is considered the discoverer of anesthesia.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois

Counted among the Windy City’s premier burial grounds, Rosehill Cemetery, at 5800 N. Ravenswood Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, sprawls over 350 acres and is the final resting place for over 55,000 of the city’s former residents, including several mayors. At least four Congressional Medal of Honor winners are buried here: George Kretsinger, Peter O’Brien, William George Stephens, and James Curtis Watson.

Eternity House

Rosehill’s neoclassical mausoleum, the largest in Chicago, was designed by Sidney Lovell and opened in 1914. Four marble Doric columns distinguish its main entrance, and its floors are made from Italian marble. Department store tycoons Aaron Montgomery Ward and Richard Warren Sears are interred inside, as well as Illinois Governor Richard B. Ogilvie.

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Burden of Time

Burden of Time
Memorial for Henry (1822-1882) and Melissa (1828-1915) Denison and two of their five children in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. Dr. Henry De La Maitre Denison was a trained surgeon and industrialist who built railroads and canals. One son, Henry, died at the age of three and a daughter, Florence, at one year and nine months.

At first glance, this beautifully serine statue depicts a mother and her departed children, but look a little closer. These well-fed but hungry children are literally pulling off her tunic and staring at what they hope will be the source of their next meal. This is clearly meant to be a metaphor for nourishing motherhood, but I wonder if this scenario was born in the sculptor’s imagination, or whether the family specifically requested it.

Oakwood Cemetery was designed by landscape architect Howard Daniels and opened in 1859. It is a secular Victorian “rural” or “garden” style cemetery where over 60,000 people are interred in 160 wooded acres.

The Embrace Of Thanatos

Embrace Of Thanatos

“Thanatos,” a monument to John E. Hubbard (1847-1899), in Green Mount Cemetery at 250 State Street (U.S. Route 2) in the City of Montpelier, Washington County, Vermont. John Erastus Hubbard was a controversial figure. He allegedly duplicitously gained a sizable inheritance from his aunt, Fanny Hubbard Kellogg, who intended her wealth to benefit the City of Montpelier. The controversy surrounding the will tarnished Hubbard’s reputation.

Upon his death in 1899, Hubbard did leave the fortune to Montpelier, and some of his wealth went toward building a gate and chapel at Green Mount Cemetery. An Austrian artist named Karl Bitter designed his monument, calling it “Thanatos” after the Greek god of death. One side of the inscription reads:

Approach thy grave
Like one who wraps
The Drapery of his couch
About him and lies down
To pleasant dream

According to legend, bad luck will befall anyone foolish enough to sit on the figure’s lap (popularly called Black Agnus).

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, at 34A Bedford Street in Concord, Massachusetts, is the final resting place of New England literary giants and prominent transcendentalists like Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. The architecture firm of Cleveland and Copeland designed Sleepy Hollow in the rural style in 1855, with winding paths and a natural, wooded setting. Thousands make a pilgrimage here looking for inspiration, and many leave behind pencils, notes, and other tokens of appreciation.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and transcendentalist philosopher known for his book Walden and essay “Civil Disobedience.” In these works, he outlined his philosophy of simple living, pacifism, and the abolition of slavery. Some have described him as an anarchist for his conclusion, “That government is best which governs not at all.”

Photo by Michael Kleen

In contrast to the transcendentalists also buried on “Author’s Ridge”, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a dark romantic writer known for The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Dark romantics believed humans are naturally prone to sin and self destruction. Hawthorne is considered one of America’s greatest novelists.

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When She is Mute

When She is Mute
A relief sculpture of a woman and child in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. This striking neoclassical relief is dedicated to Olive Belden Wigglesworth, who died at the age of 35. The inscription above her head, “Ad Rem”, means “to the point (or purpose)” or “relevant”.

Oakwood Cemetery was designed by landscape architect Howard Daniels and opened in 1859. It is a secular Victorian “rural” or “garden” style cemetery where over 60,000 people are interred in 160 wooded acres.