‘At This Place in History,’ we’re at Hope Cemetery in Barre with Public Program Manager Amanda Gustin from the Vermont Historical Society.
“So this is actually one of my favorite historic spots in Barre and really in all of Vermont. It’s just this absolutely beautiful, beautiful spot. It’s a place of sadness and contemplation, but it’s also a place of beauty and a place of love,” said Gustin.
“So the city of Barre bought 53 acres on this spot in 1895 from a local farmer. The city of Barre is just booming at the end of the 19th century. The population is exploding so they realize that they’re going to need space for a new cemetery,” said Gustin. “In 1899, they commissioned plans for a full garden cemetery. So what do I mean by a garden cemetery? There was a movement to make cemeteries parks, to make them sort of fit with the landscape that they were in – these rolling spaces – to situate them just outside of or on the edge of the city, not necessarily right downtown or right next to a churchyard. To make them spaces for sort of peaceful recreation.”
“So the thing that most people know immediately that’s really special about Hope Cemetery is the stones and the incredible art displayed on the stones. I mentioned earlier, I think of it as a place of love and it’s right there in the name: “Hope.” Because so many of these stones were carved by family members, in some cases, by the people themselves for their own graves or by friends or colleagues in the granite industry,” said Gustin.
“A lot of these stones really reflect the personality of the people who are buried there. There’s a soccer ball, there’s a plane there, there are portraits. On some of the stones, there are poems, there are trees, and just really beautiful things that reflect the people who live there. It’s also you can also see a sort of evolution of artistic style throughout the 100-130 years or so the cemetery has been around,” said Gustin.
“You can walk through sections that are a little art nouveau that a little Art Deco. You can see right in the background, a very modernist-style monument. Now it’s required that you use Barre-gray granite. You don’t necessarily always get this uniformity of color and sort of texture when you look out across the average cemetery. You’ll often see tourist buses going through here, especially in the fall foliage season. So people flock here to see these unique and beautiful stones,” said Gustin.
“It’s obviously also a very special place for the people who have family members here. And you can see a lot of the names are still names of families in Barre today. So it’s still very much part of the community. And I think it’s really special that a cemetery doesn’t just have to be about grief, it can really be about a celebration of beauty as well.”
‘At This Place in History.’