Monday, April 25, 2011

Allegheny Cemetery

Yes, I know this post may be better suited to Halloween than a post-Easter followup, but what can I say, I love old cemeteries! Nestled into the heart of the city of Pittsburgh is the historic 300 acre Allegheny Cemetery, originally started in 1845.

At first glance, the cemetery appears to be more of a park than a resting place for loved ones. In fact, even on the gloomy, rainy day I was there (I call it Pittsburgh weather) the grounds were filled with joggers, dog walkers and people enjoying the warm spring weather.
The park is a veritable architectural history lesson, featuring buildings and mausoleums in many different styles. The Butler street entrance, seen in the top photo, originally dates to 1870 with later additions, such as the odd Mansard roof.


This Neoclassical mausoleum seen above really caught my eye - so lovely! The verdigiris bronze doors really are show-stoppers. Unfortunately, the rear stained glass had been damaged and bricked over. However, if you peer through the glass in the door you can still see remnants.This Egyptian Revival mausoleum was interesting: I suspect the family buried there was very very stylish.

The numerous little Greek temples with Doric columns reminded me of a folly in an English Garden. While taking tea in a mausoleum might not sound so great (or be your 'cup of tea', har har) - there is very little difference between a European garden folly and these mausoleums!

A single person mausoleum: compare it to a studio in the city I suppose.

The interesting thing about the cemetary is that the sections are mixed. You'll find a tombstone from 1845 next to a mausoleum from 1915 next to a fresh grave. I find it so interesting to see how the styles changed. I thought these tombstones with the ogee scroll were very pretty. Is it morbid to choose your future tombstone: cemetery window shopping?

A cemetery this large has numerous entrances of course. This entry gate and pavilion along Penn Avenue was built in 1885, designed by Henry A. Macombs who had won a design competition for the structure. During construction, the design was modified so that the 135 foot tall bell tower would match the famous courthouse downtown by Henry Hobson Richardson.

Good design can be found in the most unexpected places!

Sorry for the poor quality of the photos: they were snapped with my phone!

16 comments:

Mel said...

I love cemeteries, but I'm pretty sure I never visited Allegheny when I lived in Pgh. I lived just a few blocks from Homewood cemetery, though, and occasionally would go for a stroll.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Mel, my friend Scott and I have talked about this many times. Pittsburgh has the greatest cemeteries! Homewood is the one between squirrel hill and regent square -right? Allegheny cemetery is between bloomfield and lawrenceville.

The Murphys said...

This post made me think of Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA. They can be very beautiful! I also don't think it's morbid to discuss your future tombstone. I'm 31 and have already told my husband how I would prefer my funeral to be : ) He laughed and told me a funeral is for the living not the dead but it's my party even if I'm not their, shouldn't I at least have some say?? Hope you are well!! -Amber

Todd said...

I've been in love with cemeteries for years! We do this long bike ride through westchester county and the route cuts right through this enormous Jewish cemetery that's just beautiful. Not nearly as interesting as the one in your post but the way they integrate the mausoleums into the landscaping is really beautiful.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Amber, you never know what will happen! I think everyone in my family has made it 'known' what they wish for their funerals; Death is part of life!
Todd -that sounds charming -I love Westchester county!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I wish I could remember the name of my favorite Pittsburgh cemetery - was it Homewood? It's the cemetery where H. J. Heinz, Frick and a host of other industrialists are buried, in close proximity to each other. Most of the mausoleums are exquisite Neoclassic structures, and it's like walking through a miniature Greek city-state.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Mark -yes -Homewood! It's the most magnificent cemetery!

JP's Books said...

"Cave Hill Cemetery" in Louisville, KY is one of my favorite spots. My Father always loves to joke and say everyone is just dying to get in there!
pve

Jane Kilpatrick Schott said...

I could easily move into any one of those glorious mini mansions. What scale!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

PVE- I need to get down to Kentucky sometime -it sounds amazing!
Jane - yes, the scale on all of these is just DEAD on. Ok -sorry for that......Well -maybe the individual mausoleum is a bit wonky -but not sure how else you would do that efficiently.

sandrajonas.com said...

Stefan, have you ever seen Mt Auburn Cemetery in Boston? It was started in 1831 and marks the begining of the public gardens and parks movement. It is stunning! The mausoleums and landscaping are incredible. (main gate is Egyptian Revival too)

BTW. love your sense of humor..dead on!!

Reggie Darling said...

I completely missed this marvelous cemetery on my visit to Pittsburgh last autumn to take in the sights of that city. This is inspiration to go back. I love touring old cemeteries when visiting other cities. Be sure to visit Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn one day, another large, still well-maintained 19th century one similar to Allegheny, full of high-Victorian, spectacular statuary, mortuaries, and buildings.

Tom Perkins said...

Wonderful post; I too love old cemeteries. One of my favorites is Highgate in London, I jokingly say I would like my ashes intered there with a plaque reading "He always wanted to live in London"

Mel said...

Yes, Homewood is right along Forbes Ave. I used to live in Regent Square where Forbes turned into Green at Peebles. The no-good ex - a Scott, incidentally - now lives in Point Breeze, so I doubt I'll ever visit there again. I always loved springtime when the mock orange were in bloom, though.

A.J.Barnes said...

At first I thought my attraction to this post was a little creepy, even with my love of little greek temples...then I remember I have a huge framed watercolor in my foyer of a New Orleans cemetery! Oh well.

www.ajbarnesonline.blogspot.com

cindym said...

I'm so happy to find people who love the old cemeteries! I love taking pics of the beautiful ornate statues and grounds. Allegheny Cemetery is the best! I just came back from a trip to Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. I specifically went for a pic of whats called "The Mourners", wow its beautiful! But I think I'd like to find more local cemeteries. If anyone knows of a cemetery with old ornate victorian statues etc. please let me know. I'm kinda new at this. By the way, I loved the cemeteries in New Orleans!