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1995 Walking Tour


HOPE CEMETERY is a record of the city of Worcester. It is as textured, complicated and fascinating as the city itself. The tour which follows is only an introduction. No tour could tell of all the people, organizations, ethnic groups, industries and other fascinating stories represented in Hope s 168 acres. Such an account would occupy volumes and require years of research. The Friends of Hope Cemetery invite you to participate in this process by sharing your ideas and information.

Mary Helen Nixon s 1915 bequest of $4,500 was made with the provision that these gates, given in memory of her husband Solomon, be completed within two years. Built by Norcross (15, 22), the gates were restored by the Friends of Hope Cemetery and were rededicated on November 5, 1995.

Hope Cemetery is noted for its impressive mausoleums dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. The eleven examples offer visitors a sampling of Gothic, Classical, Egyptian, and Renaissance Revival building styles. Unfortunately, in most cases the architect and exact date of construction are unknown.

Originally built in 1882, the cemetery office was significantly improved and enlarged in 1889, the same year the stick-style barn was completed. The office vault was added in 1930. ave

This 1872 vault replaced an earlier one (location unknown) built soon after the cemetery opened in the mid-1850s. Worcester architects Fuller & Delano were responsible for additions and improvements in 1887.

Iver Johnson arrived in Worcester from his native Norway in 1863 at the age of 22 and immediately set to work as a gunsmith. By 1885 he was also manufacturing bicycles. The Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works later moved to Fitchburg, producing honest goods at honest prices. The beautiful monument of a woman and child, attributed to Worcester sculptor Andrew O Connor, Sr., was erected following Johnson s death by his widow Mary; their daughter Nettie died in 1874 at the age of 5.

A rare survival with its nineteenth century fence virtually intact, this family lot was purchased in 1874 for $300 by Loring Coes, one of the cemetery s five original commissioners. Loring and his younger brother Aury were the inventors of the monkey wrench. In 1869 Aury and Loring dissolved their partnership, with Aury taking over the Webster Square wrench factory and Loring the family knife shop on Mill Street, which may account for the fact that Aury is buried in Rural Cemetery on Grove Street. Until about 1925, the Coes family gardener attended to the upkeep of the lot.

On July 4, 1870 this white marble obelisk made at the local monument works of Tateum & Horgan was dedicated in honor of Peter Slater and his fellow participants in the Boston Tea Party. Only age 13 in 1773, Slater later moved to Worcester where he was a rope-maker, general store operator, and hotelier. The early nineteenth century slate markers on this family lot commemorate his wife and four of their children; the early twentieth century stone bench memorializes Slater s greatgrandson, Frank Fay, an owner of the Worcester Woolen Company.

Arthur B. Hewett was the sculptor of this impressive monument decorating the Worcester Fire Department lot, which was dedicated in 1896 with great public fanfare. The subject is Simon E. Coombs, member of the Worcester Fire Department for forty-three years begnning in 1848, and its chief from 1872 to 1891. Coombs obituary described him as cool, possessed excellent judgment, and the large fires…were handled in a most efficient manner. sycamore

This picturesque miniature Gothic chapel was erected in 1901 or 1902 by the Troy White Granite Company, which had offices on East Worcester Street from about 1900 to 1910. The structure was recently conserved under the direction of the Friends of Hope Cemetery, with support from members of the Houghton family and the preservation consulting services of Fanin-Lehner. C.C. Houghton began the manufacture of boots at Lincoln Square in 1853.

While no early maps of the cemetery survive, the minutes of the meetings of the Commissioners along with the contours and layout suggest that this section may have been at the northern extreme of the areas to be first developed.

In 1858 Frank B. Norton and his partner Frederick Hancock began the manufacture of stoneware pottery in Worcester at Washington Square, supplying crocks, churns, jugs, pitchers and a variety of other vessels required for food preparation and storage in the nineteenth century. Both Norton and Hancock were experienced potters, having worked in their families famed potteries established generations earlier in Bennington, Vermont. In 1864 the pottery was moved to Water Street and it was there that Swedish potters such as Swen Pulson, John Jeppson and Andrew Malm first found employment. As early as 1873 the pottery began to experiment with the manufacture of grinding wheels to support the needs of Worcester s many castings and forgings industries. In 1884 Frank Norton sold the business and patent rights, and on June 20, 1885 the firm eventually known as Norton Company was incorporated as the Norton Emery Wheel Company.

Can t something be done to give Worcester a good shaking? Abby Kelley Foster wrote in 1851 to Stephen, her husband of six years. Residents of Worcester for most of their married life, the Fosters were committed radicals who believed that the social problems of the nineteenth century particularly slavery, and equality for women could be made right. They travelled the country, together and individually, lecturing and advocating for reform. Their home, Liberty Farm on Mower Street, was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Both Fosters actively participated in the first National Woman s Rights Convention in Worcester in 1850, leading to one newspaper s identification of Stephen as husband of Abby Kelley.

Although his residence was in Boylston, English-born temperance lecturer John B. Gough was always pleased to speak of himself as a citizen of Worcester. In October 1842, in Worcester s old City Hall, the twenty-five-year-old Gough …signed the total abstinence pledge, and resolved to free myself from the inexorable tyrant rum. Gough s commitment to the temperance movement and his skill as a lecturer took him all over the world. Between 1843 and 1869 he delivered more than 6000 public addresses on the evils of drink, claiming to have obtained over 200,000 pledges in the first ten years. Gough died in February 1886 while lecturing on the evils of drink to a church in the Philadelphia suburb of Frankford.

On March 16,1926, twenty-fiveyear- old Worcester-born Robert Goddard launched the world s first liquid-propellant rocket at his Aunt Effie s farm in nearby Auburn. Given the nickname Moony because of his dreams of sending a rocket to the moon, Goddard was later described by NASA as truly the American pioneer in space. In 1961 NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was dedicated in tribute to the gentle rocket pioneer who pointed the way to the Space Age. On July 17, 1969, as Apollo XI astronauts orbited the moon in preparation for their historic first landing, the New York Times published a retraction of its 1920 editorial denouncing Goddard s belief that a rocket could reach the moon. Goddard s rockets are in the collections of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and his papers, diaries and other possessions are at Clark University s Goddard Library.

In 1864 the firm of Norcross Brothers, contractors and builders, was formed in Swampscott. Relocated to Worcester by 1866, their first large contract here was for the Leicester Congregational Church. James A. Norcross attended to the clerical and financial aspects of the Norcross Brothers, while Orlando took charge of construction. The work of the Norcross Brothers survives in major cities in the Northeast and well beyond. Perhaps their best known work is Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, built for the famed architect H.H. Richardson. In 1897 James retired and Orlando continued the business alone as Norcross Brothers Company. James impressive residence, Fairlawn on May Street, was occupied in July of 1895. This impressive, although muchdeteriorated mausoleum was built in 1903. It stands in dramatic contrast to the nearby midnineteenth century naturalistic, sandstone cross of the Neale family. Relatively unknown, James Neale was probably a wire-drawer, perhaps for Washburn & Moen.

Go West, young man, go West. Like Abby Kelley and Stephen Foster, Eli Thayer was one of the nineteenth century s leading advocates for abolition. Mendon-born Thayer came to Worcester to teach at Worcester Academy, of which he also was principal from 1847 to 1849. Thayer also served as an alderman, school committee member, state representative, U.S. Congressman, inventor, orator, educator, and real estate developer, and his monument attests to his role in populating Kansas with antislavery settlers to save the state for the Union on the eve of the Civil War. Thayer s Emmigrant Aid society sent west tens of thousands of settlers to establish towns like Lawrence, Topeka, Boston and Manhattan, Kansas. It has been said that in response to Thayer s visit in 1854, Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, coined the phrase Go West, young man… In 1849 Thayer founded the Oread Collegiate Institute, off south Main Street on the site now known as Oread Park. It was one of the earliest, if not the first, collegiate-level schools for women in the United States.

By World War I the Whittall Mills on Southbridge Street (now Rotman s) had some 350 looms in operation and employed nearly 1500 skilled laborers. In the 1870s, English-born Matthew J. Whittall worked as superintendent of the Crompton Carpet Mill which had been founded in 1870 at the same site by George Crompton of the Crompton Loom Works and Horace Wyman, later of Wyman-Gordon Company. Eventually reorganized as the Worcester Carpet Company, the business and factory complex were purchased by Whittall between 1901 and 1906. The largest employer in South Worcester, the Whittall Mills remained in business until 1950. Nearby St.Matthew s Episcopal Church was built in the 1890s by Whittall from plans by Stephen Earle, the Worcester architect who also designed Hope Cemetery s nowdemolished Curtis Chapel. This handsome monument is attributed to Worcester sculptor Andrew O Connor, Sr.

Directly behind the Whittall lot is the Hanson family monument with its recent inscription noting Charles F. Carl Hanson as the first Swedish resident of Worcester. Hanson, a music dealer and composer, arrived in 1869 just as other Swedes came to work in Norton s (11) pottery or in the foundry of Washburn & Moen. Across Webster Street, approximately opposite the Nixon Gates (1), is Worcester s first Swedish Cemetery, dedicated in 1886 and in active use until the purchase of nearby New Swedish Cemetery in 1921.

Before acquiring their own cemetery in Auburn in 1896, Worcester s growing eastern European Jewish community looked to Hope Cemetery to ensure proper burial according to the rabbinic requirement that only Jews may be buried in Jewish cemeteries. The first lot was purchased by the Sons of Israel in 1881. There are seven Jewish burial areas in this section, all acquired between 1881 and 1916.

Although never a large community, a group of Norwegians, like their Jewish neighbors at Hope, established this lot in 1884, as indicated on the granite marker. Like many other immigrant groups yet to be part of Worcester s mainstream, the Norwegian community looked within for the assurances of day-to-day assistance, as well as proper burial.

Joseph Vertebois came to Worcester from Canada as a young boy. Known as Worcester s early twentieth century landscape painter by his anglicized name Joseph Greenwood, the artist s talents were recognized by the Prouty family of Spencer, who nurtured his early development. Greenwood s paintings are in the collections of Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester Art Museum,Worcester Club, and many private collectors.

Hope Cemetery s most impressive monument was erected probably in 1909 or 1910 after the death of Orlando Norcross s wife Ellen. The open Roman Doric temple dominates the landscape in tribute to the skills and artistry of Worcester s most prominent construction company. After his brother James retired, Orlando restructured the business as Norcross Brothers Company. Among the firm s many contracts were erecting the New York Public Library and the Field Museum in Chicago, as well as remodelling the White House (1902-3).

Few places in the city offers better evidence of the ethnic saga of Worcester as it mirrors the melting pot of all of the United States. A large Moslem lot was purchased in May 1919 by the Mohammedan Committee, and abuts a similar group lot secured by the Syrian Brother-hood Orthodox Society in 1911.

The only burial ground owned by the city of Worcester, Hope Cemetery has always been open to all. This area, one of several available as free ground throughout the cemetery s history, is ornamented with a small garden and bench donated by the Friends of Hope Cemetery in 1997.

Purchased in 1927 by screw-maker Edgar Reed and enlarged in 1930 to include the entire oval, this is perhaps the most impressive family lot in Hope. Once flat, the area was designed by Tiffany & Co., New York, and included a bronze plaque of Tennyson s Crossing the Bar on one of the central rocks. Reed arrived in Worcester from Kingston,Mass., in 1886 and co-founded the Reed & Prince Manufacturing Co., makers of screws, bolts, and rivets.

Soon after World War I, this handsome cross was dedicated to the men and women who served gloriously in the Canadian forces during the Great War, 1914-1918.

The beautiful bronze plaque ornamenting this granite memorial is signed W.D. KENNETH ARCH[itec]T , SC[ulptor]. J. NOVEAU , and bears the mark of the foundry, Gorham Co. of Providence. The central portion of the monument serves as a crypt for cremated remains. When Philip Pfaffmann came to Worcester in 1885 he was a carpenter, but having in his own words married the boss daughter, he became a successful textile manfacturer with mills in Cherry Valley on Lynde Brook. ave

One of Hope s two Egyptian-style mausoleums, this structure was erected in 1915, probably at the request of Emma Harris, widow of lawyer and manufacturer Henry F. Harris. The small scale of this mausoleum marks it as the repository of cremated remains. The handsome stained glass is a replacement for the original, which fell victim to vandals in 1970.

All Saints Church and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows purchased these adjacent lots in the 1880s and 1890s to provide for the needs of indigent members and those without family. The impressive black granite ball atop this lot and the near match on a later lot (near 30) are monuments in themselves to the technological and engineering prowess of the late nineteenth century. While the All Saints lot is still actively though infrequently used, this first I.O.O.F. plot was filled by the late 1890s.

In 1878, in the name of progress, the City Council voted to close the Mechanic Street burial ground (near the site of the Centrum) and surrender the land to development. In use from the late eighteenth century until 1859 (athough rarely after about 1830), the cemetery s 1116 burials were removed. Some were removed to Rural Cemetery (most notably the box-like tomb of Isaiah Thomas, sited near Grove Street) while many others were gathered here and elsewhere in Hope.

Dedicated on Memorial Day of 1892, this lot was reserved for Civil War veterans who were active members of Worcester s Post 10, Grand Army of the Republic. The impressive tripod of gigantic cannon and pyramid of cannon balls were acquired from the Charlestown Navy Yard to stand as a symbol of the horrors of war.

Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Olson and Stanley Kunitz three major twentieth century poets were all born in Worcester. Although Bishop left Worcester as a young girl, the city and its haunting memories influenced her work, which was once described as vivid and passionate. Her early attachment was to Nova Scotia; she spent much of her later life in Brazil. Kunitz once recalled Bishop saying . . .she was born in Worcester quite by accident and did not linger long. Bishop died in 1979, but it was not until the 1997 Elizabeth Bishop Conference and Poetry Festival in Worcester that her inscription and the words All the untidy activity continues, awful but cheerful (once requested by Bishop for her tombstone) were added to the family monument.

Ung Shee Chin, wife of importer Henry I. Shue Chin, was the first native Chinese woman to make her home in Worcester. Their children Rockwood and Ettie were the first Chinese children born in the city. Henry Chin operated a Chinese market on Mechanic Street until his death in the 1930s. The area of Mechanic and Spring streets which had once been Worcester s small Chinatown was demolished in the 1960s for the construction of what is now Worcester Common Outlets. sycamore

Eleni (Gatzoyiannis) Ngagoyeanes (Gage) was executed in 1948 at the age of 40 by Communist guerillas in Northern Greece for arranging the escape of four of her five children, who went to join their father Christos in Worcester. In 1982, her son Nicholas Gage published the best-selling book Eleni about her life and death. When their father Christos died in 1983, the Gage children brought their mother s remains here from their village of Lia in Greece to lie beside him.

In the early 1980s the Council of Eastern Orthodox Churches, representing twelve congregations throughout central Massachusetts, purchased and developed this area, which has since been enlarged four times. This Orthodox section today numbers 2,000 contiguous lots. Each Memorial Day the Worcester churches gather at this altar to pray for the departed. The altar was designed by Timothy Rucho of Worcester. The large iron cross is from St. George s Orthodox Church on Wall Street and was the gift of St. George s Cathedral.

The cemetery s newest mausoleums were built about 1960 by the Whitinsville Monumental Works (note signatures on the right side of each) for Table Talk Pastry Co. business partners Angelus S. Cotsidas and Theodore A. Tonna.

Opened in 1962, this area provides for the burial of infants until such time as a more permanent family lot has been established.

From 1712 to 1824, a portion of Worcester Common was used as the town s principal burying ground. By 1853 the cemetery had fallen into disrepair, and the City Council ordered the stones laid flat and covered with earth. Between 1966 and 1968, as the Common was rebuilt to include the reflecting pool and as Worcester Center (now Common Outlets) was under construction, many of these early burials and their surviving gravestones were reinterred in Hope. Worcester Common is still the city s oldest surviving cemetery.

Proposed for completion in spring 2000, a new office building will provide office and meeting spaces as well as a community room for services and receptions.

THE FRIENDS OF HOPE CEMETERY, founded in 1991, promotes the conservation, beautification and recognition of the cemetery. Ongoing conservation programs assist in saving monuments and mausoleums that are at risk. In past years, the Friends have held a variety of programs about this and other cemeteries. They have hosted bird walks, cemetery tours, and Planter s Picnics to maintain and beautify the cemetery, and they have funded and created a small Reflective Garden in the common ground. Their most significant project to date is the restoration and conservation of the Nixon Gates. In 1998, through the advocacy of the Friends, Hope Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Cemeteries. This non-profit organization invites interested persons to become members.

HOPE CEMETERY is owned by the City of Worcester and operated by the
Department of Parks, Recreation & Cemeteries.