St. Louis Cemetery and Mausoleum Tour
A short tour of some of the cemeteries and mausoleums in St. Louis City and Country.
Bellefontaine Cemetery was established in 1850, becoming the first designed large-scale rural cemetery west of the Mississippi. The parcel reached its largest size, 336 acres, in 1865, the year the American Civil War ended (it stands at 314 acres today). Its design combines elements of the rural cemetery concept, modeled on Boston's 1831 Mount Auburn Cemetery (which was itself derived from Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris) and the landscape-lawn movement, pioneered by Adolph Strauch in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery in the 1840s. Designed and originally supervised by Almerin Hotchkiss, the designer of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, the landscape features rolling hills, trees, and man-made lakes, around which many imposing funerary monuments and mausoleums are arranged. Over 87,000 people are interred here, many of them in unmarked gravesites. The cemetery was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in August 2014. The cemetery is also an accredited arboretum, the only one in St. Louis.
Calvary Cemetery was established in 1854. The property was purchased from Henry Clay in 1853 and today is 470 acres. Archbishop Kenrick purchased this property and the land that would become Rock Springs Cemetery. There were human remains located on the property before Archbishop Kenrick purchased it. It served as a burial ground for Native Americans, soldiers from Fort Bellefontaine, and the Clay family. These remains were relocated and places into a massive grave on the property.
St. Bridget of Erin was built by the Irish community in an area known as Kerry Patch. The crypt at St. Bridget of Erin housed the remains of those whose families had moved out of the city or who were unidentifiable until the 1980s when they were relocated to Calvary Cemetery. St. Bridget of Erin was torn down in 2016.
Henry Shaw originally planned to be buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery. He worked with the state of Missouri to be entered on his property. This is where he would end up building two mausoleums. The first one he had built out of limestone, and when it started to show wear from the elements, he had a second one constructed out of granite.
The resting place of underground railroad pioneer Moses Dickson. After travelling the south and settling in the St. Louis area, he organized he Knights of Liberty who played a vital role in the Underground Railroad in St. Louis, MO. He was also an ordained minister.
Washington Park Cemetery was established in 1920 in Berkeley, Missouri. Andrew Henry Watson and Joseph John Hauer founded the cemetery as a for-profit Black cemetery in St. Louis. Initially, many Whites saw a homestead's conversion into a cemetery as a loss and an invasion (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 1). Before being a cemetery, the property belonged to B. H. Lang, a vice president of the United States Grain Corporation. Whites saw the loss of farmland in the county as a devasting blow. Eventually, the cemetery would grow to be the most prominent African American cemetery in St. Louis.