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318Hood Cemetery Wall

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  • Eugene Glenn Stackhouse
    Jul 26, 2007
      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
      richly ornamented.
      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?