If you’re a lover of graveyards, you must visit Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT. This 65-acre graveyard is partly a resting place, partly a sculpture garden. There are many interesting and unique headstones to see.
Barre (pronounced berry), was founded in 1780. By the late 1800s, stonecutters from around the world had moved to the city, nicknamed the “The Granite Capital of the World.” Barre sits on a lot of granite–supposedly four miles in length and 10 feet deep–and from it, all manner of products are made.
Gravestones, Stonecutters, and Creepy Stats
A majority of the stonecutters who moved to Barre were from Italy. Glance around at the names gracing many of the stones in Hope Cemetery and you’ll find this to be true. (Fun fact: I’m part Italian and couldn’t help wondering if any of the residents at Hope Cemetery were distant relatives.)
The gravestones here are intricate and beautiful works of art. It’s hard to believe that they are made from chunks of granite. Take this masterpiece:
Or this one:
And this is a small sampling. There is a soccer ball, a race car, a lot of intricate angels, wreaths, flowers, and more.
I’m especially fascinated by mausoleums. This one was especially beautiful in its simplicity:
Many of the mausoleums have stained glass. I know because I peeked through the doors (despite my husband’s protests). I’m pretty sure that they’re meant to be admired, don’t you think?
Most of the stonecutters who worked in the nearby Rock of Ages granite quarry were subjected to massive amounts of dust inhalation. They sadly tended to die young of silicosis. In fact, a high percentage of these stone artists crafted their own memorial stones, a thought that leaves me both saddened and chilled.
Taphophilia: Why We Love Cemeteries
The love of and curiosity around cemeteries isn’t all that strange. If you’re the only one in your circle who feels a pull toward graveyards, don’t be alarmed. Being a taphophile isn’t a bad thing.
People sometimes assume that those who love cemeteries are weirdos who wear all black, have about a thousand piercings, and listen to death metal. Or dark wave. Or Enya. But that’s not usually the case.
Most taphophiles are appreciative and grateful for living–realizing how precious and tenuous the divide is between life and death. Plus, we appreciate the beauty and artistry that can be found in graveyards.
“Taphophilia: Love of Graveyards,” is a great post to read if you’re interested in learning more or connecting with other cemetery-lovers in real life or online. There are also some book recommendations included for your reading pleasure.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short tour of Hope Cemetery. If you’re ever in Vermont, try to fit in a visit. And if not, you’ll find more information about it and the cemetery’s unusual stones in this article by Roadside America.
Are you a taphophile? If so, please share your favorite thing about visiting graveyards in the comments.