After photographing during a tour of Laurel Hill Cemetery several weeks ago, I was asked to come back for the New Year’s Eve celebration in honor of General George Meade. December 31st was the day of beginnings for him – his birthday and his wedding day. Over 300 people attended this grand celebration to honor Philadelphia’s Civil War hero. Many attendees came in period dress and served as “living historians”. Major Charles Meade, a direct descendant, was instrumental in providing the headstone for the previously unmarked grave of General Meade’s mother, Margaret Coats Butler Meade. This dedication was then followed by a ceremony at the gravesite of General Meade. Speeches were made by members of the General Meade Society, the Union League of Philadelphia, and the Allied Order of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Philadelphia Brigade Band performed and the music echoed throughout this National Historic Landmark. A champagne toast and a luncheon was the wonderful finishing touch to this event!
I recently had the great privilege of photographing in Laurel Hill Cemetery in order to showcase its grand history and beauty in video. As the website states, “It is an outdoor sculptural garden, a horticultural gem and a truly unique historical resource.” As one who loves to tell stories, this project is one I am so enjoying doing. Laurel Hill is one of the oldest Victorian cemeteries in the United States and there are 78 acres of art and history. “Victorians delighted in memorial symbolism. Sometimes the monuments reflect a common repertoire of visual symbols. Angels with upraised fingers point the way to salvation. Shattered columns indicate a premature death. Flags, calvary swords, and arms represent a military career. In many cases, symbolism reflects the person. A mortar and pestle marks the resting place of George W. Vaughan, a well known pharmacist. An eagle perches on the monument of Commodore Isaac Hull, hero of the War of 1812. Calvary spurs memorialize Benjamin Hodgson, who died in the battle of Little Big Horn.” So many fascinating people are resting here… Josepha Hale, who edited Godey’s Lady’s Book; Thomas Walter, who designed the dome of the United States Capital building. Laurel Hill has earned its distinction as Philadelphia’s Underground Museum. My great thanks go out to Alexis Jeffcoat for her warmth, welcoming and help with this project. Joseph Edgette. Phd and Richard Sauers are truly the consumate storytellers, passing along their wealth of research and knowledge so generously. Taking a tour with them is a fascinating experience. Upcoming events are: General Meade Celebration on New Year’s Eve and I am told that hundreds of people come to this so get there early. Also, you may want to be a part of their 175th Anniversary Celebration. The website provides all the fun and interesting details. Again, many thanks Alexis, Joe and Rich! (Also, Caitlin Dougherty for your camera help!)