1526 National Road
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
No Official Website
Bella Morte Rating: 2 Tombstones
Located just over Ohio's eastern border in Wheeling, West Virginia, Greenwood Cemetery may be the diminutive state's best "claim to fame" with regard to burying grounds of interest to The Proprietors here at BellaMorte. While the 2 Tomb- stone rating indicates it is no great shakes, it's fair to say Greenwood does have a handful of good qualities to recommend a visit should you, Fellow Taphophile, happen to be in the area.
Without a doubt, the cemetery's crown jewel is the Tallman Memorial Mausoleum. Commandingly located at what seems the very heart of Greenwood, the building might easily be mistaken for a small chapel. The structure boasts an impeccably maintained slate roof, soaring spire, oillets, stained glass windows (sadly, these have been nearly ruined by vandals), ornate arched bronze doors and the visage of a crowned king which embellishes the terminus of each roof angle. The afore-mentioned bronze doors are, perhaps, more properly gates and these invite visitors to peer into the cool interior where three crypts grace the remaining walls. Although information on the Tallman family is scant, a member of the Greenwood Cemetery Association was kind enough to provide us with the following details about the permaent residents of this tasteful mausoleum.
The first would be Albert P. Tallman who served as president of the First National Bank of Bellaire, Ohio at the turn of the 20th century. Albert was married to Caroline (nee Gilchrist) and together the couple had a daughter named Helen. In her late teens, Helen was diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to the Adirondack Cottage Sanatarium in Saranac Lake, New York, Sadly, she was not among the number fortunate enough to make a full recovery afer taking the "rest cure." She died in 1919, at the age of twenty.
Directly behind this gorgeous memorial is the Hannan mausoleum. Perched atop a gentle rise and accessed by a stone walkway, this building takes its place in one of the cemetery's most peaceful and scenic areas. With its squat stone walls, broken only by heavy bronze doors and a rather spartan stained glass window on the rear, the Hannan evokes images of a medieval fortress. Sharing space with the Tallman certainly lends more to that effect as well. Quite impressive!
While the Tallman Memorial is elegantly understated, the Jacob C. Thomas monument is ostentatious, though, admittedly, not without some charm of its own (if only for the fact it is so glaringly overdone). Thomas was the co-founder of a chain of department stores (Stone & Thomas) which, until their 1999 buy-out by Elder-Beerman, were well-known in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The monument features an enormous bronze of the bearded and well-dressed gentlemman himself. He stands, confidently-posed and gazing towards the horizon. Behind him looms a large, blocky cross. Flanking Thomas are the figures of two women--each has her head bowed: one holds a crown of flowers while the other, an inverted torch. But that isn't the end of this (inadvertently) amusing monolith. Alas, two Corinthian columns on either end pierce the West Virginia sky, and, as if that weren't enough to make the point that someone of "importance" lies buried there, each of these is topped with a bronze oil lantern balanced on a tripod base! We assume these burning vessels denote Mr. Thomas' wisdom and erudition.
Along the southeastern border of the cemetery stand two community mausoleums. The older structure was erected in 1914, the other followed in 1923. The former features an Egyptian-themed stained glass window over the entrance, two Egyptian columns and, keeping watch to either side, solemn sphinxes. Sadly, both buildings are locked and both have had the original doors replaced by utilitarian glass-plate which looks sorely out of place on the otherwise-imposing structures. The original building is particularly tantalizing as, looking inside, visitors behold cage-like structures which rise the entire height of the building. Resembling ornate scaffolding, these bronze "fences" lend a sense of elegance to the otherwise austere interior. The newer building teases those of us who are unhappily deprived entrance with two large stained glass windows depicting angels and a pristine tiled floor.
This section of the cemetery features a number of private mausoleums of recent date. Most are quite remarkable for their stately beauty which includes tasteful landscaping and, in many instances, lovely walkways leading to the buildings themselves. Most noteable is the mausoleum belonging to the Weiss family. The interior is tinged with a soothing blue light owing to the stained glass sidelights near the entrance as well as the window at the farthest end which depicts the Virgin Mary. What further distinguishes the Weiss mausoleum is the extension at the back. Intended to accomodate two caskets, the additional section lends depth and the intimate feeling of a family room.
Greenwood Cemetery features a number of private mausoleums scattered throughout its lush acres. This makes it rather exceptional, particularly for a cemetery of its relatively small size.
Other notable memorials are the Maxwell monument (which resembles an ivy-covered castle tower); the awe-sinspiring Schmulbach (Corinthian) column and the touching Martha Bertha Brooks zinc with its resting lamb motif and the words "Our baby" memorializing the long-dead daughter of D.R. & Mary Brooks.
On the day we visited, spring had no yet fully taken hold. While most trees were still bare, many flowering varieties were in blossom and melodic birdsong filld the air. We suspect Greenwood in full leaf would be somewhat more appealing, though surely wouldn't rate an extra tombstone. That being said, we had no regrets about visiting and would certainly not hesitate to encourage fellow lovers of cemeteries to set aside one or two hours to explore should they find themselves in the area.