Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama

The Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama, is the oldest cemetery in the city. Located on the edge of a historic district, the cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes a number of notable grave markers, including these three cast zinc headstones (front above, back below).
I looked for a company name, but could not find one. The one thing that stood out was they seemed to be cast from heavier gauge metal than most of the cast zinc (aka white bronze) markers I've seen elsewhere.

The cemetery also includes more angels in various poses than I'm used to seeing, ranging from the relatively small and cherubic, as shown below, to monumental in every sense of the word.

Adult varieties come kneeling or standing, looking humbly down
or beseechingly (expectantly?) up:
I've never really understood why the kneeling on only one knee.

Maple Hill does include some elements that definitely had me wondering what people were thinking. As we were driving through the cemetery we spotted this monument with the book on a stick (interpretive plaque) standing next to it.

Knowing that Maple Hill is a National Register property, and also knowing that various Alabama notables are interred in the cemetery, a visitor's natural reaction is, oh, good, they've put up a wayside that gives more information about either the cemetery or that particular monument. The visitor is doomed to disappointment.

The marker commemorates the 1807 establishment of the Huntsville meridian, "which is the reference point for all property surveyed in North Alabama." How the marker commemorating the meridian wound up sitting in the middle of the cemetery is a mystery -- a meridian is a line, so there's no logical reason why the marker has to be in what is without a doubt the one place in Huntsville where it is likely to be seen by the smallest number of potential viewers.