The Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA, is Lynchburg’s most visited tourist site. During the past four months we have posted a blog describing the individual buildings/museums found on the cemetery grounds. This month we are going to introduce you to the Cemetery Museum and it’s artifacts.
The main focus of the Cemetery Center is it’s collection of American mourning customs and artifacts, burial records of the Southern Memorial Association, the Lee Reading Room, Taylor Conservatory and the Christian Vault.
This month’s blog post is going to concentrate on the American mourning customs and artifacts.
The main room in the Cemetery Center is comprised of doors, floorboards, beams and a fireplace mantle, all dated 1845. This room contains mourning artifacts and decor. Some of the most interesting pieces found include:
- mourning and funeral photographs (c. 1900).
- beeswax flowers (c. 1870). These would have surrounded the casket during the funeral, then have been placed on the grave and finally taken by the family where they were framed and hung in the parlor.
- a mantle clock draped in black crepe to signify mourning. The clock would have been stopped at the time of death.
- mourning stationary that is bordered in black. It would have been used to announce the death and to invite friends and family to the funeral..
- a cast-iron “shoulder casket” (c. 1857, from Diuguid Funeral Service). Used by upper-class citizen of Lynchburg it is painted to resemble wood.
- an embalming kit (c.1900). Some of the instruments are still used today.
A few of the interesting facts about mourning and burial customs found in the Cemetery Center are as follows:
- widows were in mourning for a total of 2 1/2 years. They were in deep mourning for 1 year and 1 day, during which time they could only wear black. After their deep mourning period they could add a touch of white, more ruffles or trim and wear hats instead of veils. Near the end of the mourning period they could wear clothing in dark colors:gray, purple, slate or blue.
- women did not attend the burial.
- flower arrangements were seldom used before the Civil War. Between the 1880’s-1890’s fresh, dried and artificial flower arrangements were used in profusion.
- mourning attire for men consisted of wearing a black armband or hatband for a period of 3 months.
- men wore mourning attire as a mark of respect. Women wore mourning attire out of fear that the omission to wear black would be interpreted as evidence of a lack of affection for the dead.
- immediately following the funeral all traces f death were to be removed from the house. Shutters were opened, blinds raised, crepe and flowers removed and clocks restarted.
The Cemetery Center is open between 11 until 3 daily, or by appointment. It contains detailed brochures and booklets relating to the history of the cemetery along with information about the various buildings and museums located on the cemetery grounds (most of which we have discussed earlier this year). There is a small gift shop that sells “Died and Gone to Heaven” honey (that is produced by the cemeteries bees), books (including Once Upon a Time…a Cemetery Story) and cookbooks (such as the award winning Food to Die For a book of funeral food, tips and tales), along with gifts and items pertaining to the cemetery.
Old City Cemetery, in Lynchburg, VA, is hosting the 21st Annual Antique Rose Festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 & 8, 2016.
The Antique Rose collection was planted in 1986 on both sides of the 800 foot remains of the 1860’s old brick wall. The 60 varieties planted here are representative of rose history from before 1581 thrrought the 19th century. The roses chosen include the full range of classes and colors exhibited by these ancestors of modern day roses. The original plants were gathered from across the United States and Canada, including local gardens.
The “mother roses” have been grown locally. They are cut and rooted by local volunteers, who take care of them throughout the year. These cuttings, showcasing about 120 varieties of roses this year, will be for sale on both May 7 & 8. Prices will be dependent upon the size of the rose plant. Old City Cemetery is also selling some perennial off-shoots this year. Some of the perennials will be clematis, snowball, deutzia and rosemary plants.
The roses and perennials will be sold starting on Friday, May 6th at 5:00 pm. The sales continue until Sunday, May 8th at 5:00 pm.
On Sunday, May 8th at 3:00 the Mother’s Day Rose Walk will take place. This walking tour of the roses growing along the brick wall will describe and explain the history of these roses. Some will be in bloom, while others will be in bud. The walking tour should delight your senses!
For more information you can contact Old City Cemetery at 434.847.1465 or visit www.gravegarden.org.
The pictures of the roses, found in this blog post, were taken by Mike Bedsworth during last year’s rose festival.
The Garden Club of Virginia is proud to welcome you to Historic Garden Week, April 23-30, 2016. This year 30 tours have been organized and hosted by 47 Garden Club of Virginia member clubs. Nearly 250 private homes, gardens and historic sites will be open throughout the state. You might tour just the homes and gardens in your town, a nearby town or you might travel across the state touring various areas and locales to explore more of Virginia.
Garden Day in Lynchburg, VA., hosted by the Lynchburg Garden Club and Hillside Garden Club, will be held on Tuesday, April 26 between 10 until 6. This year’s tour, a walking tour, will highlight five private homes located on or just off of Peakland Place, in the Boonsboro section of Lynchburg. The houses, all built in the 1920’s and 1930’s and their gardens vary in size and formality. Some of the homes have had extensive renovations or restoration work done. Others are virtually unchanged from their original grandeur. The gardens are also varied, some have had years of history while others are in their infancy.
In addition to touring the homes and gardens five special activities, lectures and demonstrations will be taking place along Peakland Place. Between 10 until 2 a lecture on the variety and care of hybrid boxwoods will take place at 3908 Peakland Place. At 11 and again at noon a lecture on growing grapes will be held at 3890 Peakland Place. Growing, harvesting and using lavender will be discussed at 3850 Peakland Place at 1 and again at 2. 3840 Peakland Place will host two lectures about raising bees, at 3 and at 4. Between 11 until 4 Blenheim Vineyard will host a wine tasting at Oakwood Country Club.
Local food trucks will be parked along Peakland Place to serve you sweets or savories throughout the day.
In addition to the homes and gardens along Peakland Place various historic sites will be open to those who have purchased a Garden Day tour ticket. These include Anne Spencer House and Garden, Miller-Claytor House and Garden, Old City Cemetery, Point of Honor, Sweet Briar House and Garden and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.
Tour tickets can be purchased at various locations throughout Lynchburg prior to the 26th or at Oakwood Country Club on the day of the tour. Full tour tickets are $30, single site tickets are $10 and tickets purchased in advance are $25.
The photos were taken here, at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast over the past couple of years. Enjoy!
The Lynchburg Art Club is hosting their first annual “Paint Out Lynchburg” starting on Friday, April 29 and ending Sunday, May 1, 2016.
What is a “Paint Out?” This “open air” painting festival is reminiscent of late 19th century French Impressionist painters, such as Monet and Manet, combining their love of nature and creativity when painting out of doors.
Downtown Lynchburg and its historic districts are known for its architecture, gardens, the James River and more. You set up your easel and paints and become inspired by our unique city. Using acrylic, oil, pastels or watercolors you will be able to paint at Old City Cemetery, in downtown Lynchburg and at Point of Honor.
Old City Cemetery has 27 acres in which you can set up on Friday, April 29th. Ancient trees, antique roses (which should be blooming!), various gardens, a fish pond and five historic museums provide many painting options.
Downtown Lynchburg will host the painters on Saturday, April 30th. Paint the Academy Theatre, The Allied Arts Building, The Krise Building, any of the tobacco warehouses that now are loft apartments or even the Texas Inn.
On Sunday, May 1st Point of Honor will offer the painters panoramic views of downtown and the James River or the historic mansion and cooking kitchen,
In addition to you painting there will be demonstrations, a quick paint competition and a juried art show that will showcase the paintings at the Academy of Fine Arts between May 6th and May 22, 2016, More than $1500 in cash prizes will be awarded.
Registration is now open. You may select a 3 day package or an individual day of painting. A three day painting package is $40. Day painting fees are as follows: Friday $15, Saturday $15 and Sunday $10. Checks should be made out to the Lynchburg Art Club, 1011 Rivermont Avenue, Lynchburg, VA 24504. For more information contact the Lynchburg Art Club at 434.528.9434.
The above images in this blog are by members of the Lynchburg Art Club, but you don’t have to be a member to participate in the Paint Out.
Stay with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, 2-night minimum, and we will provide you with a boxed lunch on Saturday. Call us at 434.846.1388 to select your room and make your reservation. Or come stay with us during the gallery exhibit and enjoy all of the paintings completed during this three day event.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation is pleased to announce that the Norfolk & Western J 611 steam passenger locomotive will have another run.
The powerful and sleek Class J passenger locomotives were designed and built in Roanoke, VA in 1950 by the Norfolk & Western Railway. They were known as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world.
The first trip in 2016 will be hosted by the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Using the Norfolk Southern rails it will run on Saturday, April 9 from Spencer, NC to Lynchburg, VA and return, on The Virginian.
On May 7 and 8 the 611, The Powhatan Arrow, will return to Roanoke to run half-day excursions from Roanoke to Lynchburg and back, following the Blue Ridge grade.
Seating options on all of the excursions include coach, first class and dome cars. A dining car and observation car will also be available.
Last year, June 14, 2015, we traveled on the 611 between Lynchburg and Petersburg (see blog post dated June 1, 2015.) The train ride was something to experience along with the scenery between the two stops. Last year all seats sold out in record time, so if you’re interested in this unique train trip make your reservation early.
For more information contact the Virginia Museum of Transportation at 540.342.5670 or click here for the schedule and costs. It’s a mode of travel like none other.
Following in our series of things to see and do at Lynchbrug, Virginia’s Old City Cemetery, this month we are featuring it’s Hearse House and Caretaker’s Museum.
The Hearse House and Caretakers Museum depicts the history of the burial and grave marking customs practiced in Lynchburg between 1866 until 1954. It also shows the story of the cemetery’s maintenance, or lack thereof, during it’s 210 year long existence.
Included in this museum is an original, turn-of-the-century hearse from the Diuguid Funeral Home. Diuguid has been in business in Lynchburg since 1817, and is considered Lynchburg’s oldest “institution.”. They are the second oldest funeral home in Virginia. This hearse would have been used to carry a casket to one of the private cemeteries in Lynchburg. Pulled by a team of horses, white horses pulled the hearse for children and black horses for adults.
A horse-drawn wagon, made by Thornhill Wagonworks, is also found here. It too was used as a hearse, along with being used by the cemetery’s groundskeepers to haul their equipment and workers.
When the cemetery opened in 1806 families took care of their own grave sites or plots. The cemetery hired it’s first official caretaker in 1866. He was paid $100 per year and was only responsible for the care of the Confederate Section. Originally, and until about 1954, the caretakers lived “on-sire” or on Taylor or Wise Streets. As time passed their duties were expanded to include: digging graves and the maintenance of the entire cemetery. As some of you know, the cemetery became over-grown and in much disrepair until about 1981 when the future of the cemetery was passed onto four women who renamed the association tending to the cemetery the Southern Memorial Association. They began the arduous task of clearing dead trees, brush and overgrown weeds and plants to discover unique gravestones, walls, paths and more. What you see today is testament to their hard work, that continues today, for over 20 years.
Take the time to linger at this museum and imagine life in Lynchburg in the mid- to late-1800’s. Next month we will feature the Mourning Museum, to tie into the history of burial and their customs.
The Old City Cemetery is located at 401 Taylor Street. The grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk. The Cemetery Center is open Monday through Saturday between 10 until 3 and Sundays between 1 until 5, April through December.
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