Warner Monument


The Warner monument, centerpiece of the Warner plot in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery, is one of the most curious pieces of funerary sculpture in the United States. It was carved by Alexander Milne Calder, who also did the carving on Philadelphia’s City Hall. Calder carved a depiction of a slightly larger than life size female lifting the lid from the coffin of William Warner (1780-1855) so his soul could be released to the heavens. It is not known if the face of the soul is that of Mr. Warner or just Alexander Calder’s artistic vision.

The Calder family is well represented in the arts: Alexander Calder’s grandson, also named Alexander, achieved considerable fame for his mobile constructions.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, the second oldest garden cemetery in America, after Mount Auburn in Cambridge, was established in 1835 on 95 acres of land on a bluff overlooking the Schuylkill River. The Laurel Hill Cemetery Company envisioned a great public park where visitors could view beautiful works of art while strolling in a picturesque landscape. To that end they employed local architect John Notman. Notman based his plan on the English garden tradition relying heavily on Kensal Green Cemetery in London for inspiration. Philadelphians flocked to buy plots at Laurel Hill and it became a popular recreation area and tourist attraction. Indeed, although few visitors come today it once attracted over 30,000 strollers and art lovers a year.
Text and photo © Douglas Keister Visit Doug’s Author Page

[address cemetery=”Laurel Hill Cemetery” street=”3822 Ridge Avenue” city=”Philadelphia” state=”Pennsylvania” zip=”19132″]

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