Baltimore Building of the Week: Cemetery Gates

This week is a bit darker than usual with a set of three historic cemetery gates in Baltimore, including the Westminster Burying Ground, Greenmount Cemetery, and the Baltimore Cemetery on North Avenue.

Greenmount Cemetery, courtesy Jack Breihan

Baltimore’s explosive growth in the late 18th and early 19th century soon created a demand for burial sites. The Presbyterian burial ground on West Fayette Street was established in 1786 and is the final resting place of many eminent early Baltimoreans, including Edgar Allen Poe. The Egyptian-style gate was probably added during the eclectic period in American architecture in the 1840s. Later, still larger cemeteries turned to the Gothic Revival style. Robert Cary Long, Jr., designed the elaborate gatehouse for Green Mount Cemetery in the mid 1840s; the less well known gatehouse for Baltimore Cemetery seems to be from about the same era. It stands at the eastern end of North Avenue.


Baltimore Cemetery, courtesy Jack Breihan

Westminster Burying Ground, courtesy Jack Breihan

5 comments

  1. Lu Moorman says:

    Why is the largest Africian American Cemetery in Baltimore never recognized or celebtated as a jewel on the historic preservation front. Mt Auburn has surely seen hard times. We all know that the “stewards” of the cemetery cannot handle the mission of restoration and preservation on these holy grounds. Still it deserves the respect and honor that it has truly earned. Along with Greenmount, Baltimore, and Loudon it holds the remains of the movers and shakers that have helped form our society. Apart from these cemeteries, it is the only cemetery where Blacks could be buried from the 1800’s through the mid 1900’s
    Please remember and honor it along with the other truly notable cemeteries in Maryland.

  2. Jean says:

    My comment has to do with the previous very eloquent comment made by Lu Moorman. I am not from Maryland, but I love to visit old cemetery’s. There is so much history there.
    After your comment Ms. Moorman, I had to look up Mt. Auburn. Of course, being limited in time, I could only check out their website. Black or White or Hebrew or any other persuasion shouldn’t matter at all, it deserves mention from all of the history and just how plain beautiful it is (I could only see the building as represented by the above photos of other cemetery’s.)
    If I am ever in Baltimore it is definitely going on my list of ones to visit. I guess its a long way of saying I agree with you and thanks for bringing attention to Mt Auburn for me.

  3. GraveLover says:

    Mt. Auburn Cemetery HAS been mentioned in articles, books, and scholarly works on the cemeteries of Baltimore and has been in the news both with cries for it’s preservation AND with complaints about the condition that the cemetery has been allowed to remain in for so many years. The congregation which is responsible for the cemetery just plain can’t or won’t do what is necessary to raise awareness concerning the many important burials to be found there and makes only half-hearted attempts at keeping it clean and in good condition. I have, many times, been past the cemetery to see the ravages which the uncaring, hateful people who live in that area of town have inflicted upon it. There are regularly bags of trash and other debris tossed over the fence, and local youths “hang out” in the cemetery destroying it’s monuments and desecrating the graves and the memories of those which they hold. They have no respect for the living, so how can they respect the dead? They don’t know history, so how can they CARE that they are destroying historical properties and sites? This is typical Baltimore “who gives a crap?” attitude. I’ve been a life-long Baltimorean and seen it every day. We regularly pave over our history for a few bucks from some development company which then pulls up stakes and leaves when the times get tough, leaving derelict and vandalized buildings where once pieces of true Baltimore (and National) history stood. No one seems proud to live here, and no one seems to know of Baltimore’s “firsts” or any of her past glories. The majority of Baltimore’s people are too poor/working class and concerned with putting food on their tables to look past their own noses and realize that they have a shared history that spans race, religion, economic status, etc. which they should be working to preserve. I’m not ashamed to be FROM Baltimore, I’m ashamed to be counted among “Baltimoreans”… If our schools even attempted to teach our children about our local history, it would help to ground them better and show them that together we ALL made this city what it is and we ALL have something to take pride in. However, you’d be lucky to find many of our public school teachers that even KNOW Baltimore history, let alone are working to incorporate it into their curriculum. The schools, the city, the families all fail to impart a sense of connectedness to these children (who later become uncaring adults) with the city which is their home. I would LOVE to see “Baltimore/Maryland History” make it into the required courses for our schools. Of course, I’d love to see true Peace in our day and own my own Pegasus, but I have just about as much chance of the latter happening as I do the former.

  4. Lumoorman says:

    Yes, it has been mentioned. That is the only attention it has garnered. I would hope that it means more than a passing “mention” as a reference.
    Under the appropriate purview, Mt Auburn will take it’s place among the most important African American heritage resources that the state has to offer.
    Only with more exposure and unified voices speaking about about it’s plight will it truly be heard and the long hard task of preservation and restoration can be assigned to a proper “over-site committee” (not the church deacons) and its healing can begin.

  5. Lumoorman says:

    Yes, it has been mentioned. That is the only attention it has garnered. I would hope that it means more than a passing “mention” as a reference.
    Under the appropriate purview, Mt Auburn will take it’s place among the most important African American heritage resources that the state has to offer.
    Only with more exposure and unified voices speaking about about it’s plight will it truly be heard and the long hard task of preservation and restoration can be assigned to a proper “over-site committee” (not the church deacons) and its healing can begin.

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