The fascinating introductory essay in this book places Elmwood Cemetery firmly inside the history of Detroit and connects it to the rural cemetery movement, begun in the U.S. by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It discusses the unusual monuments and beautiful landscaping of the cemetery, followed by a longer segment exploring biographies of some of the historic figures who’ve made Elmwood their final resting place.
By far the largest portion of the book contains lovely black-and-white photographs of the cemetery in every season. I particularly liked the sculpture of the little angel frosted in snow, but I found the summery images suffered a little from the loss of color. I remember Elmwood as vivid green beneath a cerulean sky full of snowy white clouds. The black-and-white photographs suggest that beauty but can’t possibly do justice to it.
Also, I wish the text and the photographs had been better integrated. I found myself flipping back and forth between the biographies, the list of photos, and the grave monuments, trying to connect everything up. Images of the permanent residents would have been a nice addition to their biographies, too.
One thing I very much appreciated was the reproduction Victorian monument advertisements. The gorgeous historic photographs of the cemetery were also a wonderful addition. I wish there had been more of them.
As it stands, this book will add depth to your exploration of this spectacular cemetery. One hopes an updated edition will resolve some of the layout problems.
Copies are available on Amazon: Elmwood Endures: History of a Detroit Cemetery (Great Lakes Books)
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