This stunning Italianate style home in the Forest Hills area of Jamaica Plain, Boston, sits directly adjacent to Forest Hills Cemetery, one of the finest examples of a rural cemetery in America. This house dates to the mid-19th century and maps show it was built on land owned by Isaac Cary, who built homes on this hill. By the 1880s, the property seems to have been acquired by the cemetery, or they gave financial assistance to Edward Everett Moulton, who worked as an Assistant Clerk at the cemetery. Edward lived in this house seemingly until his death in 1927. Since then, the home stands as one of the best-preserved in the area and is a testament to stewards of these significant old homes.
Isaac Harris Cary (1803-1881) was born in Charlestown, MA to an established, old New England family. He eventually settled in West Roxbury, an area that is now known as Jamaica Plain, where he operated a tannery along a branch of Stony Brook, a tributary of the Charles River. Isaac built this home and a couple income-producing rental properties on a hill adjacent to the newly established Forest Hills Cemetery. The Second Empire style home today features bright colors and a modern recessed window set into the mansard roof, likely providing views to Boston’s skyline.
While not a building, I must feature one of the most stunning pieces of art I have seen, at a cemetery! Titled “The Angel of Death and the Young Sculptor“, this massive monument was is a sculpture in bronze, and one of the most important and influential works of art created by sculptor Daniel Chester French and is located at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston. Also known as the Milmore Monument, it was commissioned after the death of brothers, Joseph, James, and Martin Milmore (1844–1883). The Milmore brothers immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1851, Joseph becoming a stone carver and Martin a sculptor. The will of Martin Milmore’s older brother, Joseph, called for creation of the monument, which was to commemorate the life of his older brother, Martin. As Martin Milmore had been a sculptor himself, French decided to depict the artist at work, with the Angel of Death interrupting his work, with death grabbing the chisel from Martin’s hand as he works. Martin Milmore was 39 years old when he died.
Located adjacent to the Entrance Gate at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, the Administration Building and Chapel perfectly compliments the Gothic Revival collection of structures welcoming all visitors to the cemetery. Designed by the firm of Van Brunt & Howe, the building was completed in 1884, when the cemetery’s popularity with visitors (alive and deceased) was at a high. The building is in the Gothic Revival style and is constructed of
Roxbury puddingstone, with sandstone trim on the original parts of the building and yellow freestone trim on the 1921 addition. The building remains as a perfect partner to the entrance gate, serving as a physical portal between metaphorical life and death.
The bell tower at Forest Hills Cemetery is an octagonal Gothic revival structure located on Snowflake Hill just past the entrance gate and administration building and was completed in 1876. The 100-foot tower is constructed of Roxbury puddingstone and trimmed with granite. The roof is clad with granite tiles and topped with an ornate copper weathervane. Originally its swinging bell tolled, but it has since been replaced with an electronic carillon. The bell tower rises dramatically from massive
outcrop of Roxbury puddingstone known as Snowflake Hill which is offset by smooth lawns and Victorian planting beds. While the large trees surrounding partly obscure the tower, it truly is a stunning building.
Forest Hills Cemetery was founded in 1848 by Henry A. S. Dearborn, then mayor of Roxbury. He designed this magnificent cemetery to offer the citizens of his community a place to bury and remember friends and family in a tranquil and lovely setting. Forest Hills embodies the ideals of the rural cemetery movement, which begun at nearby Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge in 1831, which was co-founded by Dearborn. Many rural cemeteries have elaborate entrance gates, possibly serving as a dramatic transition from the secular world to the spiritual realm of the cemetery, and perhaps as a metaphor for the journey from life to death. This entrance gate was built in 1865, replacing an earlier Egyptian Revival gate constructed in 1848. Designed by Charles Panter, the gate is constructed of local Roxbury puddingstone, with three arched openings with ornate iron gates surmounted by decorative scrolled ironwork. The central gateway is
framed by two conical spires and a central stone pediment, all topped with stone crosses.
While this funerary sculpture is not a building, I couldn’t help but share one of the most captivating graves in New England for Halloween, “The Boy in a Boat”. Louis Ernest Mieusset (1881-1886), just four years old, died of Nephritis, a kidney inflammation and Scarlet Fever. His mother, Madame Louise Mieusset, took every penny she had saved for the boy’s education and put it towards a commission of a funerary sculpture, depicting her late son’s playful spirit. Madame Mieusset worked as a hat-maker in Boston, barely scraping by until her death in the 1930s. She died penniless, and wished to be buried near her beloved son, but she did not have enough money set aside to be interred in the cemetery and was set to be buried in a pauper’s lot, until (legend says) Boston Mayor James Curley paid her burial expenses, allowing for her eternal rest with her late son Louis. The sculpture is carved of white marble and depicts Louis playing in a boat with a tennis racket in one hand and a shell in another. The funerary sculpture is enclosed in a bronze and glass vitrine to protect it as the marble was believed to be too soft to stand up to weathering, the artist is unknown.