Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graves & Gardens...Bellefontaine & Botanical

Herman's Marble Friend...

Yesterday morning I awoke to the sound of rain and thunder. We had planned a day of adventure, beginning with a trip to the Botanical Gardens (BG). The forecast looked iffy but the hub decided we'd go for it.

The sky was gray and just a few minutes before we got to the BG parking lot - it started POURING. We figured we'd do some of the indoor things while it rained and hope that it would stop raining soon. We explored the Climatron and a Moorish Garden and by the time we came out we never had another drop of rain!

The Botanical Gardens are free on Wednesdays & Saturdays from 9:00 until noon. This also includes the newish children's garden which is a giant play area with a tree fort, rope climbing, slides, splash area etc.

The boy thought the whole BG was "for sissies" - probably a common thought for most 7 yr old boys. The girl really seemed to enjoy it all - especially the Japanese Garden. We decided that we definitely need to go back as there was a great portion we missed out on seeing due to time and endurance levels.

After lunch we embarked on our second adventure of the day - a tour of historical Bellefontaine Cemetery.

"The story of Bellefontaine Cemetery, a non-sectarian, perpetual care cemetery, begins with the year 1849, when many prominent citizens of St. Louis, who had the welfare of the City at heart, recognized that the old cemeteries located along Jefferson Avenue would soon have to be abandoned, since they were directly in the path of the City’s westward growth.

In this Cemetery are buried many men and women whose lives contributed conspicuously to the westward expansion of our country, and a visit to their graves may give us a keener appreciation of our national heritage. Also, Bellefontaine Cemetery is truly an outdoor museum containing some of the finest sculptures and memorial art in the country. It provides a splendid catalog of styles and changing tastes in memorial art illustrating one phase of our cultural growth."

Shrouded Angel (actually looks kind of creepy - give it a sythe and it becomes the grim reaper)

We spent a few hours roaming around the cemetery with a map showing 47 of the most prominent burial spots...some significant because of who was buried there - some significant due to the architecture. I know it sounds odd - but we had a great time!

I ended up taking considerably more photos at the cemetery than at the Botanical Gardens :)

Resting place of General William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame)

Mosaic ceiling

There were many interesting mausoleums - some because of their size and grandeur (Adolphus Busch) some b/c of their the few that were built into the side of a hill...

The mosaic design about was from a simple mausoleum...there was a stained glass window opposite the front door with the window broken so the interior was deteriorating...the floor tiles faded, full of dust, walls crumbling inside - but the ceiling mosaic still looked beautiful! One of the inscriptions on the inside tombs told of the death of a young girl "6 years old - lost on a steamer".

I love the story of the large stone statue at the top of the page...Herman Luyties traveled to Italy in the early 1900's and while there he met and fell in love with the model for a sculptor. Herman proposed to her but she rejected him - so he did the next best thing. He had the sculptor render a 12 foot marble statue of the woman who broke his heart. The statue was kept in his home for a time and then moved to his burial plot. Guess he felt like if he couldn't have her in life - he'd have her in death.

So many of the tombstones have been weathered and the names and inscriptions lost or very difficult to read. It's interesting how a lot of the tombstones not only gave the date of the person's death but how many years, months and days old they were when they died...anyone know why that was done?

Adolphus Busch resting place

"It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart."


CanadianGrandma said...

I,too, enjoy walking through old cemeteries...I have never been to an elaborate one like you all did...most interesting!