Blog written by LVPC Member Lori Lucas
401 N 7th ST, Easton PA
LINK TO SLIDESHOW
If you head out from the Simon Silk Mill parking lot onto the Karl Stirner Arts Trail you will quickly come across a blue gate that looks like an abstract face. You can pass through and walk down a short tunnel which opens onto the lower part of a cemetery. Like Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole, you have now tumbled into a history book.
The historic Easton cemetery is on 87 beautifully landscaped acres of rolling hills. When the cemetery opened in 1849, it followed a smaller version of what was the trend in cemetery design much like Greenwood in Brooklyn New York and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia where families gathered around decorated family plots and held picnics in a large park. In 1990 the cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in landscape architecture and funerary art. The cemetery has over 29,000 burials and unlike many historic cemeteries, it remains an active burial place. Many of those found buried here were influential in the development of Lehigh Valley, and surrounding area including Lafayette college “notables". Scattered throughout the cemetery are military and service markers as far back as the Revolutionary War. A cannon at the bottom on a hill marks the location of many Civil War veterans.
The cemetery has much to offer the photographer. Here you can find Victorian hand carved stone memorials, obelisks, mausoleum, art sculptures, interesting architecture, and French styled grave gardens filled with plants. Thousands of examples of funeral art are presented in a variety of decorative styles that span from Greco Roman revival, Gothic Victorian, to art deco. Reading the headstones or grave markers is like a history lesson not just of the local region but of our nation. The memorials are a window into someone else's life and how they wished to be remembered or were remembered by family. The symbols on the monuments have specific meaning and reveal more about the deceased. For example, a complete column depicts a full life; an urn with a flame indicates new life and undying remembrance; clasped hands symbolize hope of reunification in the next life or farewell, see you soon. A chain with a broken link indicates the loss of a family member. It is interesting to see what details are presented. Ages are often revealed not just in years but in months, and date. The specific regiment of veterans of the Civil War are carved in stone. One interesting grave marker was of a WWI veteran in the aero unit; this was a time when planes were largely used for reconnaissance.
Although a quiet place for reflection, the Easton Cemetery is a spot where you can find joggers, people walking their dogs, couples holding hands and children laughing in the sunlight.
The cemetery gates are open at eight every morning and close at dusk. If you don’t go through the blue faced gate you can go through the official entrance at 401 7th Street where there are self-guided tour booklets at the main office building just outside the arched gated entrance. One booklet lists Lafayette College notables and another a more general walking tour identifying interesting grave sites and highlights. There is another entrance to the cemetery at 10th Street And Jackson with plenty of free parking available on the side streets.