As we move towards Halloween, I was excited to be able to tour one of Baltimore’s oldest and most historical graveyards, Green Mount Cemetery. It wasn’t exactly the best weather for a graveyard tour – it was clear, sunny and warm! It should have been foggy and dark for better atmosphere… so through the magic of Photoshop, I made it a little more moody!The guide, Wayne Schaumburg, a local historian, was fabulous, and each person on the tour surely learned a lot about the history of both the graveyard and some of Baltimore’s leading citizens.
One of my personal favourites is philanthropist, Enoch Pratt, who gave the funds for Baltimore’s public and free library system, and in whose summer house I work every day. Because this is a Victorian-era cemetery, there are specific icons and totems that are indicative of the era. One is the obelisk, which was popular because of the relocation of Cleopatra's Needle to London from Egypt in the 1870’s. A version of the obelisk has a tasseled shroud draped over the top. It was a testament to the skill of the monument carvers what they made the draping look so realistic.Of course, there were loads of angels, avenging and otherwise, scattered though the cemetery. Some were carved and others were cast. There are lots of classical figures represented, owing to the Victorian’s fascination with all things Greco-Roman. This one is dropping rose petals onto the gravestone below. This could be a Greco-Roman soldier. One of the more interesting and recent gravestones is for Elijah Bond, the man who patented the Ouija board, which was invented and made in Baltimore. A group of Ouija board fans raised the money for a gravestone after they found that Bond’s grave was unmarked. The stone resembles the famous Ouija board. It was dedicated in 2008.
As in any graveyard, urns are a ubiquitous motif, in many shapes and sizes. I loved looking at the different fences surrounding the plots. Some were iron fences and gates, and others were carved stone. There are many unusual grave-markers at Green Mount, including a detailed carving of a piece of brain coral. No one knows why this is the head-stone, or whose it is.
Here are a few other stones which caught my eye.
One of the most well-known residents of Green Mount is John Wilkes Booth. However, it’s very difficult to find the gravesite, and his actual grave is not marked. There is a family monument with all of the family’s names, because of the controversy about burying Booth in Baltimore. The tours of Green Mount are being held on Saturdays in October and are $15 per person. For information, please e-mail Wayne Schaumberg here.