Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection - Page 3

President’s Corner APRIL 28, 2020 A sweet auburn | 2020 volume i s this issue of Sweet Auburn goes to press in late April, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 surge here in Massachusetts and are all trying to adapt to this new world of uncertainty. In this challenging time, Mount Auburn Cemetery remains a place of solace and tranquility as we continue to carry out our mission of “inspiring all who visit, comforting the bereaved, and commemorating the dead in a landscape of exceptional beauty.” Our theme for this issue, highlighting Mount Auburn as a “Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection,” is particularly timely under the current circumstances. As we reflect on Dave leading a tour near Halcyon Lake in 2018. the past and what we thought was “normal” three months ago, and try to imagine what the “new normal” will look like, Mount Auburn remains a beautiful and comforting landscape full of monuments and stories about those we want to remember. Here, the memories and stories of over 100,000 individuals are preserved in stone. Some of these stories – those of our most notable residents – are known to many, but most are only known to the families of the deceased. On March 30, we made the difficult decision to close our gates to the public, following Governor Baker’s stay-at-home advisory. In order to continue providing essential burial and cremation services for families, we need to prioritize the safety and comfort of the families whom we are assisting. To keep everyone safe, graveside services have been kept to less than ten people and memorial services are being postponed until a later date. It has been heartbreaking to see these families have to sacrifice so much, but we are glad that we have been able to provide families and mourners the opportunity to visit the graves of their loves ones between 4:00 and 6:00 PM every day. We are doing all that we can to protect our staff so that they can continue to provide these essential services for families and maintain our grounds during this pandemic. We are rotating staff in small crews on alternating days and abiding by all social distancing and safety protocols. Many of our staff are working remotely and carrying out important tasks to prepare us for the year ahead. The dedication and collaborative spirit of the staff have been phenomenal, and I have never been more proud of our fabulous team. Despite the current challenges, we continue to plan for the future and implement projects that enhance the aesthetic qualities of the landscape while also improving its wildlife habitat value and providing new interment space and memorialization opportunities, as described in the articles about Indian Ridge (pp. 2–3) and Hazel Path (pp. 6–11). The completion of the Hazel Path project connecting the Consecration Dell woodland to the wildflower meadow around Washington Tower has been exciting, and it has been a distinct pleasure working with Laura Solano and the rest of the MVVA team on the design and implementation of the project. I am especially pleased to recognize Craig Halvorson (pp. 12–14) and the tremendous impact he has made on Mount Auburn’s landscape over the last 30 years (27 of which I have been a part of). Mount Auburn Cemetery is a better place because of Craig! Mount Auburn’s “landscape” includes the monuments memorializing those interred here as well as our historically significant buildings. Stuart Walker’s article (pp. 16–17) provides a glimpse at just one of the designers of the thousands of monuments that are such an important part of the Mount Auburn landscape, and Gus Fraser (p. 19) summarizes the status of the Story Chapel Masonry Repairs project. While we have focused on the “active cemetery” functions over the past two months, we continue to plan activities related to our important role as a cultural institution (pp. 20–21) and look forward to welcoming all visitors back to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Mount Auburn, when we can safely do so. I for one, look forward to the day I can once again lead walking tours around the grounds, as in the photo above. In the meantime, please explore our virtual content at https://mountauburn.org/virtual-ways-to-enjoy-the-cemetery/ to stay connected to Mount Auburn from your home. David P. Barnett President & CEO 1