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…)
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…)
On April 1, 1997 a cruel April Fools joke was played on the northeast region. Twenty-five inches of heavy snow damaged and destroyed Mount Auburn’s treasured trees. An outpouring of financial and moral support from hundreds of visitors, lot owners and supporters contributed over $120,000 for the recovery and replanting effort.