Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

The unusual monuments of the Hope Cemetery in Vermont: Some of the finest examples of memorial design and granite craftsmanship ever produced

David Goran

Located on a small hillside in Barre, Vermont, the Hope Cemetery stands as a magnificent tribute to the stone cutters and artisans peacefully interred among their very own creations. The city calls itself the “Granite Capital of the World”, and the cemetery is known for the superb granite craftsmanship on its memorials and tombstones. It is the largest of three cemeteries managed by the city of Barre.

One of the oldest expressions of American Culture. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

One of the oldest expressions of American Culture. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The greatest concentration of memorial design, with custom figures, bas-reliefs, and ornate crypts can be found here, where many of the stone carvers and their families are buried. The cemetery was established in 1895, designed and planned by Edward P. Adams, a nationally known landscape architect. Originally, it contained 53 acres, but since then, it has expanded to a total of 65 acres. Skilled artisans from around the world, especially Italians who immigrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had been flocking to Barre to become a part of the booming granite industry and one of the main uses of granite throughout the country was in tombstones and memorials.

75% of the tombstones were designed by the occupants of the graves. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

75% of the tombstones were designed by the occupants of the graves. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

Detail of artwork on the gravestone of a well driller. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

Detail of artwork on the gravestone of a well driller. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

Silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by granite dust, was common among the artisans and sculptors who were breathing it in every day, which led to an abnormally high death rate. In addition, the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic caused many additional deaths, adding to the need for tombstones.

It is truly a gallery of splendid artwork. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It is truly a gallery of splendid artwork. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Despite the variety of memorial design, there is a uniformity not seen in other cemeteries. There are over 10,000 monuments made of Barre Gray granite. It is estimated that one-third of all memorials in the United States came from this place.

All of its stones are made from Barre Grey granite.

All of its stones are made from Barre Grey granite. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

This half-size replica of a race car #61 celebrates local driver Joey Laquerre, Jr, who died in a 1991 snowmobile mishap. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

This half-size replica of a race car #61 celebrates local driver Joey Laquerre, Jr, who died in a 1991 snowmobile mishap. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

A not-quite-exact replica of Michelangelo's Pietà. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

A replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

Many unusual monuments can be found here, such as a bas-relief of a soldier smoking a cigarette, a half-size replica of a race car, bored Angel, bas-relief of an 18-wheel truck and more. Also, hobbies of the dead are remembered, with a soccer ball, a relief of an older man on a motorcycle, a baseball player.

The “Bored Angel”. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The “Bored Angel”. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

Left - Gravestone of a pilot. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0 Right -Gravestone of a 13-year-old soccer enthusiast. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

Left – Gravestone of a pilot. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0 Right -Gravestone of a 13-year-old soccer enthusiast. By Mfwills/CC BY-SA 3.0

 

It is a popular tourist destination and part of the Rock of Ages granite quarry tour. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It is a popular tourist destination and part of the Rock of Ages granite quarry tour. By 826 PARANORMAL/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The cemetery is a common tourist destination, and has been referred to as a “‘Museum’ of granite sculpture,” the “Uffizi of Necropolises”, by Vermont folklorist Joseph A. Citro, a “Gallery of granite artistry,” a “sculpture garden” and a “Huge outdoor museum.”