Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn A Modern Vision for an Historic Cemetery - Page 3

President’s Corner Mount Auburn is first and foremost a cemetery, providing a place to bury and com- memorate the deceased as it has since our founding in 1831. Since the very beginning, however, Mount Auburn has been different, as our founders envisioned a place of beauty, tranquility, and inspiration for the living in addition to a place to bury the dead. Today—187 years later—we continue to create new interment space every year in ways that enable us to provide a diverse mix of inventory to meet evolving client needs while also preserving and enhancing the historic landscape. Currently under construction is our latest such project, the “woodland sanctuary” and cremation burial area on the slope below Washington Tower (see pp. 4-5), which we look forward to opening in 2019. The lead article—and theme for this issue of Sweet Auburn—describes our “Modern Vision for an Historic Cemetery” and how, inspired by our visionary Dave Barnett and his wife Eileen at the Asa Gray Garden ribbon-cutting ceremony. founders, we are working to position Mount Auburn for a long and prosperous future as an active cemetery with new and expanded chapel facilities and on-line technology in addition to new burial space. In articles about “Online Memorial Pages” (pp. 6-7) and “Family Digitization Days” (pp. 8-9), you will see examples of how we are utilizing new technology to provide enhanced services and help preserve the stories of the people interred at Mount Auburn. While Mount Auburn Cemetery continues to be very much a cemetery, it is also a vibrant cultural organization serving as a museum, botanical garden, wildlife sanctuary, and so much more. The spectacular new Asa Gray Garden, which we officially opened with a ribbon-cutting celebration on June 28, 2018 (pp. 12-15), now truly represents all that Mount Auburn has to offer as a place of comfort and inspiration in a landscape of exceptional beauty, with a diverse collection of plants worthy of any botanical garden. Situated between our two chapels, the garden will continue to be an important gathering place before and after memorial services, and it now has more benches and seating areas to linger and relax in. It has been a pleasure working with the talented team from Halvorson Design to incorporate over 175 species and varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses into a garden that will be beautiful in all seasons. The selected plant species from both eastern Asia and eastern North America celebrate the legacy of Harvard professor Asa Gray, whose work in the nineteenth century provided crucial support to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution. We look forward to utilizing Asa Gray Garden to teach about the importance of biodiversity and both the value of Asian plants and the potential environmental threats of introducing non-native plants. The renovation of Asa Gray Garden would not have been possible without the generous support of so many who helped fund the project. Contributions to the Friends of Mount Auburn have also en abled us to embark on projects such as the restoration of the Great Rose Window in Bigelow Chapel (pp. 10-11), and to continue our artist-in-residence program with award-winning playwright Patrick Gabridge (pp. 16). Mount Auburn Cemetery and its staff and volunteers continue to be recognized in many ways (pp. 18). I’d like to think we are carrying out what Mount Auburn’s first president, Joseph Story, had in mind when he said the following words in his Consecration Address on September 24, 1831: “Let us banish the thought that this is to be a place of gloom. Let us cultivate feelings and sentiments more worthy of ourselves. Here let us erect the memorials of our love, and our gratitude, and our glory.…Here let learning and science, and the teacher of the philosophy of nature come.” Thanks for your support of Mount Auburn! David P. Barnett President & CEO On May 11, Cemetery President Dave Barnett and Trustee Tom Cooper planted a Coral Bark Japanese Maple to celebrate National Public Gardens Day and to thank Tom, for his four years of dedicated service as Chair of Mount Auburn’s Board of Trustees. 2018 Volume 1i | 1