Written by Dani and Andrew Livelsberger
Photography by Andrew Livelsberger
Background:A full history from the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum can be found HERE.
Having a need to handle the internment needs of the city during the 1830/1840 cholera epidemics, city professional leaders and the Cincinnati Horticultural Society formed a cemetery association in 1844.
The goal was to find a place for a cemetery that was big enough to handle the needs of the city, but not be infringed upon by expansion. In addition, the association wanted it to handle funeral needs as well as house many kinds of plants, trees, and flowers. The members traveled all over the United States and Europe for inspiration and ideas.
Over its 150 year history, the Spring Grove Cemetery has been a leader in cemetery design.
Impression:When you first enter into the cemetery grounds, you realize you are in some place special. The architecture and layout definitely hit the mark on what the original founders and designers wanted to do.
Old world architecture in the buildings, art deco designs and more modern flow together seamlessly. The paths and roads wind you about into different areas and there seems to be something awesome to see at every turn.
This is an area that I think you could visit for months and years and be able to find something new and interesting. Not only that, but the look and feel of the area could change even based on the seasons!
Walking about, we saw signs that showed community activities are even held here.
Some of you might be thinking that a cemetery is an odd place for community events. However, remember that this cemetery was built with this kind of thing in mind. We can still give respect to those interned here and serve the community by using the space. Also, having the resources of the community will provide additional funds to help maintain the space.
Looking at the headstones, you'll notice that there are large varieties here. More so than I think I've ever seen at any other cemetery.
There are your more modern monolith shapes, Washington Monument shaped obelisks, and flat to the ground stones and plates.
I think this makes the more unique markers and stones stand out. There are ones with multiple tiers, built up shapes, busts and the like.
You also have various types of mausoleums and church structures. As seen below, these structures are large, beautifully built. From afar they have one kind of beauty, but then looking closer at the details, you'll see the inspired architecture that went into these buildings. A great example of this is the building below, we lovingly nicknamed "Goth Building".
The first image is the front from afar, then the next image that follows is the details in the arches that are on either side of the main doors.
Then we can pull further back and see these fantastic views with large beautiful buildings in the background.
Maybe we are weird, but there is a beauty and serenity in places of internment. Spring Grove Cemetery makes that even more so by not just being a place of internment, or of final rest. No, the designers decided to make this a place that is part of the community. It is a place where the lives of those that came before us can be celebrated. We remember them not only by the names on the stones, but also by making the cemetery space a viable, useful area for those still wandering the surface.
So, next time you think about a place to go and just be - think about visiting and learning about the souls that are here at their final rest.