If you have followed my blog for any amount of time you will know that I love cemeteries and I love history, so you combine the two at one event and I am in Heaven.
Now a historical, cemetery walking tour might not be on the top of Glen's list for a Saturday morning.
But being the wonderful husband that he is, he did it for me. Oh...he also decided to be my paparazzi.
In all seriousness, I did learn a ton a great information and got a lot of great photos, and in the end I think that Glen enjoyed himself.
Cemetery Landscape Design
Did you know that there have been four stages of cemetery design? The first one was graveyards. Graveyards were generally located near and administered by a church or parish. The early 19th century brought about the change from graveyards to cemeteries, which were separate from a church or parish.
Monumental or Park Style - This was the second type. Typically noted to have larger headstones or monuments made of marble, granite or similar material. They rose vertically from the ground and generally were set in a "park" like setting of rolling hills and mature trees.
The Park Style is by far my favorite.
Lawn Style - After the Park Style came the Lawn style. This style came about at the beginning of the 20th century. A lawn cemetery is covered in grass and each grave is marked with a commemorative plaque placed horizontally at the head of the grave, flush with the ground.
Lawn Beam - The most recent style is the lawn beam. Low (10-15cm) raised concrete slabs (beams) are placed across the cemetery. Commemorative plaques stand on these beams adjacent to each grave.
Natural or Eco-Cemetery - There is a brand new style of cemetery emerging. Where an area is set aside for natural burials (with or without a casket). Natural burials are motivated by a desire to be environmentally conscious with the body rapidly decomposing and becoming part of the natural environment without incurring the environmental cost of traditional burials. Glen is quite intrigued by this style, but that is not something I want to be taking photographs of.
I learned some interesting things about the monuments themselves:
White Bronze - A type of monument I had never seen before. They are a cast monument and not really bronze but made of zinc. They had no supporting infrastructure inside, so not the sturdiest if a tree branch fell on them, but they held detailing beautifully.
Tree Trunk - These monuments belonged to the Woodsmen of the World, they were members of a fraternal benefit society. They used the tree trunk design until the 1930's.
Jewish - I have not been in a cemetery that had a designated Jewish section before.
The practice of putting stones on the headstones is a long held tradition.
Colonial Era - This headstone depicts the colonial era. All about the same size with a rounded top and a center motif with something either depicting death or the afterlife.
This was an excellent walking tour, and Tom Dilley did a marvelous job. As you can see it was well attended.
I will definitely be going back to explore some more on my own. I also got the names of some other cemeteries to explore around Grand Rapids.