Support Preservation of Significant Monuments: Samuel Appleton and Wigglesworth Cradle

March 1, 2018

Mount Auburn’s diverse collection of monuments and funerary art from the early nineteenth century through today, interwoven into the landscape, is the reason for so much of our aesthetic richness, educational value, and historical significance. By nature of being an outdoor collection, many of our monuments now require an extra level of care and maintenance to protect them after years of exposure to the elements. The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery has been working on a multi-year initiative to prioritize conservation of the most significant monuments on our grounds ever since 2014, and plans are now underway for the latest in this series for 2018.

The monument of merchant and philanthropist Samuel Appleton (1766-1853), pictured by Greg Heins, left, was created circa 1838 in the style of a miniature Grecian temple, is considered one of our most important early Victorian monuments. In the first decades of Mount Auburn, families often looked to Europe for works of art to commemorate loved ones, and the Appleton Monument was among several early memorials imported from Italy. This ornamental temple of Italian marble, set atop Cedar Hill, features symbolic elements that would have been familiar to Victorian viewers including an ouroboros (a snake eating its own tail) symbolizing eternity, a winged hourglass representing fleeting time, sepulchral lamps atop the memorial as symbols of the lamps of wisdom or eternal life, and evergreen wreaths for perpetual remembrance.

The evocative Wigglesworth Cradle is another priority for preservation this year. Added in 1888 to the Wigglesworth family lot, the marble cradle memorializes Mary Wigglesworth (1883-1884), who died of diphtheria before her second birthday. Today, it is a notable example of Victorian vernacular art. Planted with flowers inside the cradle each year, its emotional symbolism has touched countless visitors to Mount Auburn every year.

These significant monuments, like many others that we have already conserved or have work plans to undertake in the coming years, have suffered years of erosion and bio-growth. The priority for Mount Auburn’s expert preservation staff is now to provide the proper cleaning, stabilization, repairs, and protective maintenance to ensure that the monuments, and the symbolic meaning within all of their detailed carvings, will remain intact well into the future. The Friends of Mount Auburn is raising the necessary funds for these latest conservation initiatives for 2018, and we ask you to join us in supporting this important work. Donors like you help ensure that these monuments will remain beautiful, evocative parts of the landscape for years to come, and we thank you for your generosity.

To make a gift and join us in preserving our significant monument collection, please click here. Or contact Jenny Gilbert, Director of Institutional Advancement at 617-607-1970 or

About the Author: Anna Moir

Grants & Communications Manager

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