Greenwood Cemetery Architectural Design Tour

Recently, a group of staff and family from Remains went on a tour of Greenwood Cemetery in South Brooklyn, led by our friend Elizabeth Broman, Reference Librarian at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Greenwood is the permanent residence of many of the wealthy and politically notable residence of New York’s gilded age. The grounds are a beautiful park-like setting of rolling hills, dotted with monuments and mausoleums. We toured the chapel, where we saw a bronze chandelier made by the E.F. Caldwell Co., one of my heroes. It was a beautiful weekend and close to Halloween…so appropriate.

Here are some photos we captured along the way:

There are plenty of non-ostentatious and poignant grave markers along with the bombastic ones. I love the simplicity of the children’s graves like this on (just initials and quantity.)

We all loved the log-font of My Dear Mama.

Father mother brother.

I like the simple architectural elements that are not specific in form to grave markers, like this inverted corbel. Many of the white marble monuments are decaying from the effects of acid precipitation (*fun* fact: snow and fog are as likely to be acidic and cause problems as rain). The acid reacts with the calcium in marble, turning it to powder and giving the stones all of the crispness and legibility of melted ice cream.

Our gang, Remainders appreciating remains.

I didn’t know it was fatal.

This poor fellow looks on first glance to be an early casualty of the internet wars. On closer inspection of the punctuation he was revealed to have died in our 19th C. Cuban adventure.

As was nearing Halloween, many jokes were had at the expense of the undead. This vault, with its cool verdigris Sargent padlock was clearly a zombie jail. Thank goodness they keep them locked up.

A zombie-strength padlock.

I did a bit of poking around online and sadly it’s not the case that this prison-like door belongs to Mr. Leavenworth of Leavenworth Prison fame. It would have been fitting, but it’s some other dude…

Lots was made of the appropriateness of pagan architecture in a mostly Christian burial ground: whether it was sacrilegious, fitting on account of the Egyptians’ veneration of the afterlife, etc. There were a number of very cool mausoleums incorporating Egyptian motifs, including a few straight-up pyramids.

Maybe it’s the acid rain, but the bronze develops a beautiful patina.

These Celtic-derived design were striking.


Seems self-evident.

The ghost of a bronze plaque, stolen from one of the pyramid mausoleums.

The bronze plaque from a early 20th century inventor of a syncretistic philosopher’s mausoleum. It has Christ, a zodiac, Egyptian, and a bunch of other all-melding together stuff on board… covering all bases, just in case.

- David

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