2016-10-21 / Community

A Window on the Past

Take tour of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Saturday
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


Art and symbolism can be found among the carvings on early gravestones. Shown here is a carving frequently found on gravestones in this area from the 1700s and early 1800s, known as "death's head" or "winged death." The earlier version of this symbol was often skull with wings, but as society's feelings about death changed, and hope grew for the possibility of a soul going on to heaven, we often see that a human or cherub's face replaced the former use of the skull. (Courtesy photo) Art and symbolism can be found among the carvings on early gravestones. Shown here is a carving frequently found on gravestones in this area from the 1700s and early 1800s, known as "death's head" or "winged death." The earlier version of this symbol was often skull with wings, but as society's feelings about death changed, and hope grew for the possibility of a soul going on to heaven, we often see that a human or cherub's face replaced the former use of the skull. (Courtesy photo) South Portland Historical Society is offering a tour of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. This year’s tour will be led by local historian and author, Ron Romano. Romano has researched the life and work of Bartlett Adams (1776-1828), a stonecutter who arrived in Portland in 1800. Adams established the area’s first stone-cutting shop. He supplied hearthstones and mantle pieces to the area’s homes, but his more lasting – and visible – impact can be found in the early cemeteries in our area. His busy shop produced hundreds of slate and marble gravestones, a nice variety of which survive today in the historic burial grounds of Portland and surrounding towns, including Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in South Portland.

Romano recently published a book, “Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams,” in which he tells the story of Adams and the other stone-cutters working in the shop until his death in 1828 at age 51. With 100 images, the book shares the triumph and tragedy of this important man, and features one of Mt. Pleasant’s grave-markers, the marble headstone for Eunice Parrott, 1810. The book is available for sale in the South Portland Historical Society’s museum gift shop at Bug Light Park.

The Mt. Pleasant Cemetery tour will depart from the Sawyer Street side of the cemetery at 11 a.m. The tour is free for current members of the South Portland Historical Society; $10 for non-members. We hope you’ll join us as Mr. Romano leads us on the walk and shows us firsthand the beautiful carvings from the Adams shop. He will have a supply of his book available for sale at the walk, as well. For more information, call the historical society at 767-7299.

Join fundraiser for historical society

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, please

join us at B.good Restaurant at 200 Gorham Road in South Portland for a fundraiser in support of the South Portland Historical Society. B.good will donate 10 percent of the proceeds of all sales made from 6 to 9 p.m. that evening. So, take a night off

from cooking, come on out for some great food, and help support the preservation of our local history.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

Return to top