13 September 2013
Newark’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which opened in 1843, consists of 40 acres of rural landscape. The cemetery boasts an impressive gothic styled main gate made of brownstone. After a quick internet search it appears to be Portland Brownstone – which according to one website is “deposits of reddish-brown sandstone lying in long, narrow bands along the eastern seaboard from Nova Scotia to North Carolina.” Many of the brownstone row houses in New York City were constructed of Portland Brownstone. I believe there was a quarry in Belleville which operated for many years and may have been the source of brownstone used in Northern New Jersey projects. There are several local examples of brownstone including Oakeside in Bloomfield and the train bridge on Ridgewood Avenue in Glen Ridge. Any time I take the train into New York City I can’t help but look at the old brownstone and observe its slow decay – brownstone is a type of sandstone after all and will eventually erode away.
Mount Pleasant captured a lot of the charm and natural beauty of other grand cemeteries like Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, but it unfortunately lacked great examples of stone angels. I still made the best of the trip and pushed aside my mild disappointment – there were plenty of other interesting monuments. One in particular – utilizing the popular obelisk form – was dedicated to deceased members of the Newark Fire Department. Atop the monument was a firemen pointing to the heavens. Below, along the base, there were reliefs of three vintage fire trucks. The carvings were impressive and indicative of a skilled hand.
One particular mausoleum also caught my attention. The Dryden Mausoleum was built on a grand scheme and is a lovely example of neoclassical design. According to Newarkhistory.com – John Fairfield Dryden was the founder of Prudential and a US Senator from 1902 to 1907.
In this photograph, I love the effect the black and white creates – there is an interesting play between the hard cold edges of the stone and the tranquil softness of the structures’ surroundings.
The last interesting find for the day was the final resting place of Thomas A. Edison’s first wife – Mary Stillwell (1855-1884) who died at age 29 (from either a brain tumor or morphine poisoning – see Edison’s Wikipedia page). Mary is not buried with her famous inventor husband. I checked. Instead, Edison is buried behind his house located in the Llewellyn Park community in West Orange NJ.
Below is a picture of the monument to Mary Stillwell Edison. The other image is of a Celtic Cross. There were some really striking examples in the cemetery – I may have a whole new genre starting. We’ll see.