Brookside Cemetery Hearse House & Public Tomb

The Brookside Cemetery in Chester, Vermont has its first burials in 1770. At historic cemeteries in New England, outbuildings were required to meet the needs of the dead. The building on the lower left was constructed in 1830 as a “hearse house”, which was used to store the horse-drawn funeral coach. The hearse would pick up bodies from homes or elsewhere in coffins and transport them to the cemetery for burial. The stone building was a public tomb, built in 1850 and used to store bodies and coffins during the winter months when the ground is too hard to dig. The building is likely stone to prevent smell from escaping and retain the cold temperatures.

In front of the cemetery, a bronze statue of a Civil War soldier stands with a rifle above a piece of Chester granite. The granite is inscribed with names of local men who served and lost their lives in the war, fighting for the Union cause. The monument was dedicated Memorial Day in 1885.

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