FOREST LAWN CEMETERY
1411 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209
Bella Morte Rating: 4 Tombstones
Listed in the National Historic Register, Forest Lawn names among its permanent inhabitants Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States. Other notables have been interred on the grounds as well, but many visitors may be, as we have been, far more intrigued by the stories and after-life memorials of much more common people whose stories in stone will be cause for admiration and curiosity for generations to come.
Case in point...the Blocher monument, located very near the Delaware Avenue Gate. This massive granite memorial houses life-sized images of Mr. and Mrs. Blocher (we're told the name rhymes with poker) standing beside the death-stilled body of their son, Nelson. Above the young man's body, a voluptuous angel hovers, solicitously bearing a floral garland. The story goes that the angel is modeled after the features of a young woman who was employed as the family maid and with whom young Nelson had fallen in love. Outraged at the thought of their son's ardor for someone considered beneath his station in life, Mr. and Mrs. Blocher sent Nelson to Italy in the hopes he would forget the housekeeper. Their plan ended in tragedy, however, when their son became gravely ill and returned home to die. To assuage their grief, John and Elizabeth Blocher commissioned artist Frank Torrey to sculpt the figures visitors today can view inside a 60 ton, bell-shaped stone.
Forest Lawn also features at least three memorials to children of particular interest to lovers of cemetery art. Laura (age 9) and Willie (age 3) Gardner perished less than one month apart. A sculpture of the two shows older sister Laura with her arm protectively holding her younger brother. A bouquet rests in her lap while young Willie holds a baby lamb. Both the flowers and the lamb symbolize childhood purity and innocence.
Bessie Isabella Hoffman's grave is marked by a life-size sculpture of the young girl clasping a handful of flowers. She died shortly before the age of 5.
Encased in glass to protect the delicate marble of her image, the figure of little Tacie Hannah Fargo, who died in 1866, a few months shy of her second birthday, sits atop a tasseled blanket. She holds a bouquet of flowers in her right hand. Tacie was the daughter of Jerome F. and Hannah Fargo. Jerome was the brother of the founder of Wells, Fargo & Company. He held a principal interest in the company.
An outstanding bronze sculpture, designed by nationally-acclaimed sculptor Harriot Frischmuth, stands sentinel to the William A. Rogers family. Standing 10 feet in height, the figure of a robed woman, her head loosely veiled, her right breast bare, raises her right arm towards the heavens to which she gazes. Bearing the name "Aspiration," this bronze captured both our hearts and our imaginations. It is outstanding in its beauty and positively inspirational to behold. Certainly among our all-time favourites.
In 2004, Forest Lawn completed work on The Blue-Sky Mausoleum. Designed in 1928 but left unexecuted for 76 years, this open air monument, comprised of a series of step-like crypts, is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed memorial with spaces available to the public. Situated along the banks of one of the cemetery's lakes, the Blue-Sky Mausoleum is one of the more unique memorialization options we have come across.
While we're on the topic of mausoleums, don't miss the opportunity to explore the lovely private family mausoleums which dot the landscape around Mirror Lake.
Next time you head for Niagara Falls, make sure to plan a stop in nearby Buffalo. Set aside several hours to enjoy the park-like beauty of Forest Lawn.