Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Connecting the Present with the Past - Page 3

sweet auburn | 2019 volume i President’s Corner I n this issue of Sweet Auburn, we focus on PRESERVATION. Mount Auburn Cemetery, after all, is a National Historic Landmark recognized for its significance and influence on the rural cemetery and public parks movements, and has much worth preserving. But just what does preservation really mean at Mount Auburn and what are we striving to preserve? Gus Fraser (pp. 2-3) nicely summarizes the framework and philosophy we are following when we talk about preservation at Mount Auburn. In a nutshell, we strive to honor the bold and innovative vision of our founders to create a beautiful landscape that would serve the important function of burying and commemorating the dead while also inspiring the living. To achieve this, we must continue to be innovative in response to changing beliefs and customs surrounding death and commemoration while still respecting the past. We must also consider the buildings and monuments as an integral part of the landscape and always consider the structures and surrounding plantings together in an integrated fashion as we undertake preservation projects. The “landscape” at Mount Auburn consists of a remarkable collection of monuments and commemorative art integrated within an equally remarkable collection of trees and other plantings. We strive to preserve this integrated combination of built and natural – just as our founders intended. Jenny Gilbert and Meg Winslow (pp. 4-5) describe our ongoing program to conserve our thirty most significant funerary monuments, which was initiated with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and continues thanks to the generosity of many individuals and foundations who have contributed funds for these efforts. Our most recently completed significant monument preservation project, the Samuel Appleton Monument, is described on pages 6-7, followed by Dennis Collins’s article (pp. 8-9) about the landscape enhancements planned for this spring around the Appleton monument together with the adjacent North Dell Meadows landscape and habitat restoration project near Consecration Dell. These projects collectively illustrate our integrated approach to monument conservation and landscape improvements that together help to preserve the inspirational character of Mount Auburn that our founders envisioned. Photo that first appeared in Sweet Auburn in 2010 of Dave Barnett sitting on the Purple-leaf Beech across from Story Chapel. After years of accelerated decline, the tree had to be removed in February 2019. One of the most inspirational aspects of Mount Auburn – what attracted me here to begin with back in 1993 – is its collection of trees, but unfortunately we cannot preserve any individual tree forever. It was one of the toughest days of my 25 years at Mount Auburn, in early February, when I had to watch the magnificent 140-year-old Purple-leaf Beech tree near the front entrance being cut down because of its advanced state of decline. Kristin Macomber captures beautifully on pages 14-15 how emotional it was to watch the tree decline and then be removed. While we cannot preserve any individual tree While the loss of the European forever, we can keep planting Beech in the foreground was new trees and preserve our traumatic, the renovated Asa Gray collection of 5,000 trees and Garden and Bigelow Chapel in the overall character of the the background are exciting new additions important to Mount landscape. That is precisely what we have been doing and Auburn’s future. will continue to do, and I look forward to watching the beech tree’s replacement begin to enjoy its prominent new home and flourish at Mount Auburn. Thanks for your support of Mount Auburn, and I hope to see you out on the grounds this spring! David P. Barnett President & CEO 1