The 9th Annual Cambridge Open Archives: “Living and Dying in Cambridge”
Can you imagine having the chance to examine an amazing selection of primary documents, ephemera, and photographs while discussing the history of Mount Auburn Cemetery? Well, this dream came true for the lucky individuals who attended this year’s 9th Annual Cambridge Open Archives.
Two groups of twenty curious visitors each joined us on the afternoon of June 19th for the rare opportunity to view archival materials from Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Historical Collections. This year’s theme, Living and Dying in Cambridge, was a particularly good fit for the Cemetery! (more…)
by Robin Hazard Ray
Orchis Path near the apex of Mount Auburn Cemetery is a small-scale rock-and-mineral showcase. There you can find the enormous rose-quartz boulder than marks the family plot of George Sands, a local merchant in the memorial business. The Wigglesworth family plot provides a splendid display of elegant, if weathered, Victorian monuments in Italian marble.
There too we find a stone memorial that is not doing very well. The gravesite of Lucy Orne Bowditch (1816–1885) and her husband J. Ingersoll Bowditch (1806–1889) is marked by a table tomb in poor condition [see photo above]. While Sand’s rose quartz monument and the Quincy granite urns that adorn the Bowditch lot will persist almost unchanged for another thousand years, Bowditch’s handsome monument is not faring nearly as well. Parts of the reddish-brown stone pillars that uphold the flat memorial slab have dissolved away, flaking onto the ground below. Other monuments made of this brown stone, including the grand mausoleum of the Cabot Lodge family on Auburn Lake, are in a similar condition.
What is this sandstone, and why was it chosen for such high-profile monuments, despite its obvious faults? (more…)
Through a combination of words and imagery, veterans’ memorials found throughout Mount Auburn contribute to the telling of American history and the service of men and women in times of war. You can now access information about a group of nine veterans of the Civil War and World War I, and the details of their monuments at Mount Auburn, through our new mobile app.
The Friends of Mount Auburn is currently fundraising to conserve these memorials, all of which offer unique contributions to our understanding of Massachusetts and American military history. We have received a challenge grant of $7,500 from the Massachusetts Archives, and are seeking funds to match it one-to-one.
To support this project, please visit http://mountauburn.org/give/ and select “Veterans Preservation” on the list of donation options. Thank you for helping us preserve these monuments to military heroes for future generations of visitors!
The seventy-two acres purchased from George Brimmer for the purpose of a cemetery was commonly known to locals and Harvard students by the name of “Sweet Auburn” after the fictitious town in Oliver Goldsmith’s 1770 poem “The Deserted Village.” When deciding what to call the cemetery, the founders chose “Mount Auburn” as a simple name change from what most already called the land but not until considering other name options. (more…)