Hillside Cemetery Arch, Monson, Mass

The arch at the entrance to Hillside Cemetery, at the corner of Main and Mill Streets in Monson, probably taken around 1900-1920. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The arch in 2015:

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The mid-1800s saw a major shift in the way cemeteries were designed.  Especially in larger cities, simple graveyards were replaced with elegant, landscaped cemeteries that felt more like a park than a place for burying the dead.  Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, helped to pioneer this idea in the 1830s, and soon major cities across the northeast were creating similar cemeteries.  Here in Monson, the town had its own scaled-down version of such cemeteries with Hillside Cemetery, which is seen in these two photos.  It is the final resting place for many of the town’s prominent citizens of the 19th century, many of whom had large family plots with ornate stones carved of Monson granite.

One of the defining features of Hillside Cemetery is this granite arch, which was built in 1897 with funds provided by Emma Field Page Norcross.  Although she lived in Germantown, Pennsylvania, she had the arch built in memory of her family members who are buried here, including prominent factory owner Cyrus W. Holmes.  Nearly 120 years later, the arch is still standing, and not much else has changed in this scene, aside from the increase in the number of headstones in the background.

Saint Thomas Cemetery, Southington, Connecticut (3)

Another photo of the All Souls’ Day Mass in Southington’s Saint Thomas Cemetery, in May 1942. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA-OWI Collection.

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The cemetery in 2015:

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As seen in the previous two posts, photographer Charles Fenno Jacobs took a number of photos of the All Souls’ Day Mass.  This event probably had a special significance for those attending; it was right around Memorial Day, and some perhaps had already lost a loved one in the war.  Many of the others certainly would have had a son, grandson, brother, or husband serving in the military, and although they wouldn’t have known how long the war would last, it would end up being over three years before it ended.

Today, this section of the cemetery has hardly changed.  The two large crosses that Jacobs used to frame his 1942 shot look the same, and the only obvious difference – aside from the lack of people – is the addition of a few more headstones in the foreground.

Saint Thomas Cemetery, Southington, Connecticut (2)

Another photo of the All Souls’ Day Catholic Mass at the Saint Thomas Cemetery in Southington, in May 1942. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA-OWI Collection.

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The cemetery in 2015:

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Like in the previous post, this is a rather eerie contrast.  By now, nearly all of the people from the first photo have since died, and many of them are probably buried in the same cemetery that they once attended Mass in some 73 years ago.  The cross on the right side of both photos is the main focal point of the cemetery, and the headstones in the western half of the cemetery are arranged in circles radiating outward from the central cross.  It was from here that Reverend Francis J. Mihalek can be seen officiating the Mass in the 1942 photo, as explained in photographer Charles Fenno Jacobs’s caption, which reads: “Southington, Connecticut, an American town and its way of life. On All Soul’s Day the Catholic congregation is gathering in the Saint Thomas cemetery for an outdoor Mass which in 1942 was officiated by the Reverend Francis J. Mihalek.”

Saint Thomas Cemetery, Southington, Connecticut (1)

The All Souls’ Day Catholic Mass at the Saint Thomas Cemetery in Southington, in May 1942. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA-OWI Collection.

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The cemetery in 2015:

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Many of Charles Fenno Jacobs’s Southington photos were taken here in Saint Thomas Cemetery, probably with the intent of promoting goodwill toward Americans from European Catholics.  His original caption reads: “Southington, Connecticut. On All Soul’s Day the Catholic congregation is gathering in the Saint Thomas cemetery for an outdoor Mass which in 1942 was officiated by the Reverend Francis J. Mihalek.”  Today, as is the case with most then and now photos of cemeteries, not much has changed, except for the addition of a few more names on the headstone in the foreground.

Venezian Monumental Works, Springfield Mass

The Venezian Monumental Works building on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is located right next to the architecturally similar building at 1579 State Street, which was probably photographed on the same day as this one.  However, while the former Frank’s Service building has long been shuttered, the Venezian Monumental Works is still in business.  The company is actually substantially older than even the first photo; it was established in 1882, when the Pine Point neighborhood was on the remote outskirts of the city.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown, which has presumably increased demand for headstones, and it also doesn’t hurt that they are located right next to St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Today, the building has doubled in size, but the original section is still visible on the left side.

Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, Mass

A scene in Springfield Cemetery, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same scene in 2015:

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As mentioned in previous posts here and here, Springfield Cemetery was designed as a peaceful, beautifully-landscaped scene in the middle of the city along the same lines as Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  Today, the scene is more grown-in, and obviously there are more gravestones in the scene, but otherwise the landscaping remains very much the same as it was over 100 years ago.

Many of Springfield’s notable residents of the past are buried here, from Congressmen like Chester Chapin, William Calhoun, and Samuel Knox, to businessmen, including Milton Bradley and Horace Smith (of Smith and Wesson), and even one of the victims of the Titanic sinking, Milton Long.  The headstone of another notable burial can be seen in the first photo – the large stone at the top of the hill above the footbridge is that of Chester Harding, a portrait painter from the first half of the 19th century.  Some of his portraits included presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, Chief Justice John Marshall, Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll, and senators Henry Clay and John Calhoun.  His grave is still there, although today it isn’t visible from this angle because of the tree growth.  It was thanks to his headstone, though, that I was able to confirm the location of the photo, since there aren’t any other clear landmarks visible in both photos.