Through a combination of classroom instruction and on-site exploration, workshop participants will learn about Philadelphia’s rural cemeteries and their historical context, as well as how to assess a cemetery’s preservation needs and possible treatments. Students will learn from the example of a targeted condition assessment of family burial lots that staff and student interns from the National Park Service’s Northeast Region Office carried out at Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery as part of a larger strategic planning effort launched by the cemetery. Turning to The Woodlands and Mount Moriah Cemetery, students will explore the wide range of stone types, and other materials, used to construct monuments and their cemetery environments, how and why those materials deteriorate over time, and what responsible efforts can be used to slow that deterioration. Instructors will also discuss the importance of documenting changing cemetery landscapes and modes of commemoration as well as the history of rural cemeteries in the Philadelphia region and elsewhere. The workshop will begin at The Woodlands, with classroom presentation followed by a tour of The Woodlands as an outdoor classroom. After lunch, the class will travel to nearby historic Mount Moriah Cemetery to discuss its preservation challenges.
Originally the site of the estate of William Hamilton, 54-acre landscape of The Woodlands became a 19th-century rural cemetery in 1840. In 2006, it was designated a National Historic Landmark District in recognition of its unique history and rich resources. Established in 1855, Mount Moriah Cemetery also originally consisted of 54 acres, though today it comprises approximately 200 acres in Philadelphia and Yeadon. The cemetery, which has been poorly maintained for decades, with many of its historic sections overgrown and wooded, has become the project of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, an organization dedicated to the cemetery’s preservation and promotion through community engagement, education, historic research, and restoration.
This workshops involves both classroom instruction and outdoor activities. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.
Instructors: Dennis Montagna and Aaron Wunsch (spring 2017)
Credits: .6 CEUs
Dr. Dennis Montagna directs the National Park Service’s Monument Research & Preservation Program, based at the Park Service’s Philadelphia Region Office. He chaired the federal review panel that selected the design and oversaw the completion of the African Burial Ground Memorial at the burial site of thousands of enslaved and free Africans in lower Manhattan. His publications and lectures include examinations of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC, the photographs that Eudora Welty shot in Mississippi cemeteries in the 1930s, efforts to preserve mental institution burial grounds, and the memorial that Franklin Roosevelt designed for his grave at Hyde Park, NY. Dennis holds BA degrees in Studio Art and Art History from Florida State University, a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD from the University of Delaware. He serves as vice president of the Association for Gravestone Studies and chairs that organization’s Conservation Committee. He is a former chair of the American Institute for Conservation’s Architecture Specialty Group.
Dr. Aaron Wunsch is an architectural historian and assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. His seminars have focused on broad aspects of the American cultural landscape, from commercial architecture, to cemeteries and suburbs, to cartography and the idea of landscape itself. His publications and papers have addressed such diverse topics as the rural cemetery movement in Philadelphia, the formation of Charlottesville, VA’s, park system, and the architecture of early electric utilities. He is also an active preservationist. He has served as vice president of Virginia’s Preservation Piedmont, written numerous reports for the Historic American Buildings Survey, and been employed by that agency, the Cambridge [MA] Historical Commission, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Aaron holds a BA from Haverford College, an M.Arch.Hist. from the University of Virginia, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.