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Showing posts from 2012

The Guggenheims: One of America’s Best Known Families

The name Guggenheim is synonymous in America with philanthropy and achievement. In the 19th century, family patriarch, Meyer, amassed a fortune from mining and smelting. His business acumen and philanthropic ways were inherited by his large brood who made names for themselves during their lifetimes. Their goodworks and family name live on. Many members of the Guggenheim family are entombed in SalemFieldsCemetery, an historic Jewish cemetery which straddles the Brooklyn/Queens border. Their octagonal-shaped mausoleum was built in 1899 at a cost exceeding $100,000 and is the largest mausoleum in the cemetery. It was created by American architect Henry Beaumont Herts who is also responsible for a number of other monuments on the grounds. The white marble structure was modeled after the Tower of the Winds in Athens in the Italian neoclassical style. Barbara Myers Guggenheim, the wife of family patriarch Meyer, was the first to be entombed there after her sudden death in 1890. Meyer’s gran…

Edwin W. Marsh - Atlanta's Dry Goods King

This Gothic Revival mausoleum was built for Edwin W. Marsh in 1890. At the time, Marsh was the most successful retail dry goods merchant in Atlanta. Constructed of sandstone, the building sports a spire, buttresses, cusped arches and polished granite shafts. The prominent bronze urn was made by Gorham Manufacturing, the first US foundry. One of 55 mausoleums in Oakland Cemetery, the Marsh mausoleum is currently undergoing restoration.

This Weekend at Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery will once again participate in openhousenewyork. As they did last year, the cemetery will be opening several noted mausoleums to the public.

For more details, click on the link below.

This Weekend at Green-Wood Cemetery

Catholic Actors Guild of America

In 1920, a parcel of land in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, was gifted by Cardinal Hayes to the Catholic Actors Guild. But, it was not until 1937 that a monument was erected at the site. The 10 foot high and 8 feet wide monument bears the names of the performers, as well as a line from Hamlet: Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest. Gene Buck -- president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers-- presided over the November, 1937, dedication, telling the crowd that “They made life richer for a million people.”

Over time, the guild purchased additional land and to date more than 200 of its members have been buried here.

Brooklyn's Roeder Family

This castle-like mausoleum in Brooklyn's Evergreen Cemetery contains the remains of the Roeder family. Patriarch Frederick Roeder (father of Charles) manufactured trucks in his East New York location. Upon his death, his sons continued the business. His funeral took place at the now defunct Fairchild Chapel on Lefferts Blvd. in Brooklyn.

Richard Kyle Fox and The National Police Gazette

This stately mausoleum, with Egyptian overtones, houses the remains of Richard Kyle Fox in Woodlawn cemetery. Fox , who was born in BelfastIreland, published the popular National Police Gazette From 1877-1922. In its heyday the publication --which sold for a dime --had a circulation of 500,000 and a readership in the millions.

The Cottage Community of Architect Atterbury

Grosvenor Atterbury is one of several prominent architects --along with James Fenwick and Richard Upjohn--buried in Green-Wood Cemetery. While during the course of his long career Atterbury was responsible for the design of many prominent structures, he is most remembered for designing the stately Tudor and Colonial style homes which comprise the exclusive enclave known as Forest Hills Gardens. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (son of the co-designer of Central Park and Prospect Park) was the landscape architect on this 1908 project of one of America’s oldest planned communities. Residents have included Jimmy Breslin, Geraldine Ferraro, Branch Rickey (the baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson) and CSI actor David Caruso.

Atterbury died in 1956 at the age of 87 in Southampton Hospital. He is buried beneath a simple stone --which notes that he was an inventor architect--in a shady and secluded family plot. His father was a lawyer who became the general counsel for the Erie Railway and…

An Early Feminist and Physician

Dr. Lottie Cort practiced medicine for 55 years, after graduating --in 1883--from Women’s Homeopathic Medical College in Pennsylvania. During her career she held a number of positions, including secretary of Memorial Hospital and president of the hospital’s dispensary-a position she held until 1912. An early advocate for women’s issues, Dr. Cort was a prominent suffragist and a founder of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Equality League. She was also a member of the Chiropean, a club for women which served Brooklyn’s Eastern District. The Chiropean --whose name invited much curiosity--was founded in 1896 and its 250 original members included many prominent women, including the wife of Brooklyn Mayor Frederick Wurster. An early NY Times article stated their mission as:” …to give full scope and an enlarged field to the prerogatives of the twentieth century woman, and to make her in all respects not only the co-equal, but the admitted superior of the twentieth century man.”

Dr. Cort died sud…

Book Event @ the Old Stone House on May 8th

On May 8th, I'll be part of a book event at Brooklyn's venerable Old Stone House. For more details click on this link: The Old Stone House

Charlotte Canda and a Tragic Accident

One of the most ornate monuments in Green-Wood is that of Charlotte Canda, who died in 1845, on her 17th birthday. Canda’s death was the consequence of a freak carriage accident that occurred on the way home from her birthday celebration. A tablet by the entrance to the monument makes note of this accident which took her life. Her Gothic monument, which --ironically --she helped design as a monument to her aunt, was personalized for young Canda and for years was the most popular monument in Green-Wood. Constructed of white Carrera Mable in the style of a tabernacle, the monument is decorated with 17 rosebuds, flowers, birds and musical instruments. A large statue of Canda in her birthday gown predominates beneath a marble canopy. In an 1893 article, The New World made reference to her “fair form still preserved in Marble.”
Charles Albert Jarrett de la Marie, said to be Canda’s fiancé committed suicide a year after her death and is buried nearby.

Elias Howe and His Dog Fannie

Elias Howe, Jr. is often credited with inventing the sewing machine. Actually, he was granted a patent for the lockstitch (the basic stitch made by a sewing machine) in 1846. That patent expired in 1867 and—ironically-- so did Howe.

Howe funeral service took place at the First Universalist Church in Cambridgeport, Mass. and the officiant was a Rev. Greenwood. He was then buried in Cambridge Cemetery. In 1890, the same year Howe’s wife, Rose, died, the Howe’s were buried together in Green-Wood. Their beloved dog, Fannie, is buried within the family plot, along with her own monument, on which a poem entitled “Only a Dog” is inscribed. The Howe gravesite is located at the prime intersection of Battle and Hemlock Avenues and is a most popular stop on my tour.

Scott Joplin, the "King of Ragtime"

American composer and pianist, Scott Joplin, is famed for his ragtime compositions. Over the span of his career, Joplin penned more than forty ragtime pieces. The Maple Leaf Rag --one of his earliest compositions--is recognized as ragtime’s defining work.

Joplin died at the age of 49 and was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery (East Elmhurst, NY) on April 5, 1917. Yet, more than 50 years later –in 1973-- his music made a resurgence after the release of the movie, The Sting. The academy-award winning film featured several of Joplin’s compositions, most prominently, The Entertainer, which Marvin Hamlisch adapted for the movie. The popularity of the movie and its musical score brought Joplin’s music to the attention of a new generation.

For the past several years, St. Michael's Cemetery has been hosting an annual Scott Joplin Memorial Concert. This year's concert date is Saturday, May 19th.

The Scannell Brothers in a Tammany Hall Twist

Florence Scannell was a New York City Councilman and opponent of Tammany Hall politics. In December of 1869, he was shot in a barroom brawl by Thomas Donahue, a day before being elected Alderman, a position he never assumed. From the time of the shooting until he died on July 10, 1870, Scanell lay “hovering on the edge of life.” At Scannell’s funeral mass, which took place at St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan, Rev. Father Henry told the congregants that they should not mourn for his departure, for there was reason to believe he was now “in a better world.” At the conclusion of the religious service, Scannell’s wood casket was opened and several hundred mourners passed by to say a final goodbye. The casket was then loaded onto a funeral coach, borne by six gray horses, for the ride to Calvary Cemetery in Queens.

This exquisite statue, which marks Scannell’s grave was dedicated by his brother, John J. Scannell, as is noted on the stone. Several months after his brother’s…

Louis Comfort Tiffany: More Than Lamps

Yesterday, I attended a wonderful lecture about Louis Comfort Tiffany, at the Cold Spring Harbor Library in Long Island. Although I researched Louis Comfort, along with his father, Charles Lewis, the famed jeweler, I learned a number of things about the family and took a new look at their modest gravestones in Green-Wood Cemetery.

It seems that Louis C. Tiffany was quite the party animal, throwing lavish parties--sometimes for 1,000 people --at Laurelton Hall, his 100 room estate set on 580 acres in Oyster Bay, LI. The invitations were proffered by scrolls, often written in hieroglyphics, and guests were --more often than not --requested to attend in costume.

Louis Comfort Tiffany died in 1933, but Laurelton Hall lived on, serving as a haven for artists as per Tiffany’s wishes. Sadly, in 1957, the mansion burned down in a mysterious fire, the origin of which has never been discovered. Much of the contents of Tiffany’s home were destroyed. One of these, (which can be seen above) was T…

Public Enemy No. 1

Once named America’s Number One Public Enemy,Johnny Torrio’sdeath, in 1957, went virtually unnoticed by the public or press. Torrio suffered a heart attack while in a barber’s chair on April 15th and died later that day in Brooklyn’s now defunct CumberlandHospital. It took a full three weeks after Torrio died before a short news item ran in the New York Times, referring to Torrio as “The man who put Al Capone into business…” Later that same year, rival mobster, Albert Anastasia, was gunned down in a barber’s chair while getting a shave.