The Bigelow Chapel at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown, around 1865-1885. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.
The chapel in 2021:
These two photos show a closer view of the Bigelow Chapel, which was featured in the previous post. The Gothic Revival-style chapel was originally built in 1846, and it was designed by noted architect Gridley J. F. Bryant, along with one of the founders of Mount Auburn Cemetery, Dr. Jacob Bigelow. However, while the design was sound, the construction work was shoddy, including the use of poor-quality stone. As a result, the chapel was in danger of collapse within less than a decade, and had to be deconstructed and rebuilt.
This work was completed in 1856, and the first photo was taken around a decade or two later. The building would continue to be used as the cemetery’s chapel until 1898, when a larger one was built near the entrance to the cemetery. The old chapel then became the first crematorium in the state, and over the years the interior was renovated several times, although the exterior has remained well-preserved in its original appearance.
In 1936, the old chapel was named in honor of Dr. Bigelow, and in 1970 it was expanded with a new wing, which now houses the crematorium. The newer chapel, now named the Story Chapel, remains the primary chapel here at Mount Auburn, although the Bigelow Chapel is still used as a meeting space for a variety of events.