318Hood Cemetery Wall
- Jul 26, 2007THE HOOD [CEMETERY] WALL
From "GERMANTOWN", Journal of the Germantown Historical Society, No.
27, March, 1929:
THE HOOD WALL of the Lower Burying Ground
In the histories of Germantown it is stated that the wall on the
front of this cemetery was built by money left for this purpose in
the will of William Hood, who died in Paris in January, 1850. An
article in the "Germantown Telegraph" of April, 1849, exactly nine
months before Mr. Hood's death, would seem to refute this statement.
The article speaks of "the elegant and costly improvement which is
about being made to the Germantown Cemetery, at Main and Logan
Streets, by William Hood, Esq., of Philadelphia."
The paper continues: "The preparation of the material has been in
hand for some time, and the whole is expected to be completed in
August or September. It will be a highly ornamental work, and will
add greatly, not only to the appearance of the Cemetery itself, but
to the lower part of the borough generally. The structure will be
composed entirely of solid blocks of marble of the best description
dressed on both sides. The base course will be from the quarry of D.
O. Hitner, Esq., Marble-Hall, Montgomery County; and all above from
the quarry of Mr. Brooks, west side of the Schuylkill, in Upper
The architect was "William Johnson, Esq., of Philadelphia, who
stands at the top of his profession"; and the marble masons
were "Messrs. John Struthers & Son, who are too well known to need a
word of commendation."
The dimensions of the wall were given as follows, "kindly furnished
to us by Mr. Peter M'Morland, the intelligent foreman of the Messrs.
The whole length of the wall was to be 149 feet 6 inches; the height
of wall at Logan Street, from pavement to top of baluster rail, 6
feet 6 inches, and at the other corner on Main Street, 10 feet 7
inches. The thickness of wall was to be, corner posts at base 3 feet
square, and at top 2 feet square, to finish with urns, and 11
intermediate posts each were to be 2 feet 8 ½ inches square at base,
and at top 1 foot 9 in. square, all to finish with urns. The panels
between posts were to be 2 feet 5 inches thick at base, and at top 1
foot 5 inches. The front was to have nine panels filled with
balusters, six panels between Logan Street and gate, and three from
gate to the other corner; beside these were to be solid panels on
each side of the gate, with heavy carved trusses on top, to form an
abutment to the arch over the gate. The size of the gate was to be,
width in clear 6 feet 5 inches, height from pavement to lower side
of arch 17 feet, and to the crown of arch 23 feet. The keystone of
arch to be in the form of a shield in front, with skull and cross-
bones carved on it. The whole of gateway, including arch, was to be
In addition to this, other portions of the cemetery were to be
modernized, "so that this ancient and venerated place of the dead is
at last, through the liberality of a citizen of Philadelphia deeply
attached to the land of his fathers, to rise up and smile in its old
age, in the midst of the gloom that surrounds it."
Just what the explanation may be for what is apparently a mistake
somewhere, is hard to say. Perhaps Mr. Hood had a t first intended
that the wall was to be built as a memorial after his death, and
arranged his will accordingly, and the later decided to do th
building himself, neglecting to alter the will. The historians,
finding his will and overlooking the newspaper, would naturally
conclude that the wall was built in 1850. Perhaps, in spite of all
the advanced preparations related above, the actual building was
postponed until the following year. Who can answer?