2116 Chestnut Street
Erie, Pennsylvania 16502
Bella Morte Rating: 2 Tombstones
Being privileged to have visited a number of cemeteries established in the same time period as Erie -- and in cities quite similar to Erie in many ways -- it was quite obvious to us from the moment we approached the less-than-awe-inspiring front gates that this graveyard falls short of the grandeur and appeal of its more attractive contemporaries.
Although not breathtaking, however, there is still enough that's attractive about this cemetery to make it worthy of exploration, and those who take the time to do so will be rewarded with a number of photo-worthy monuments and mausoleums.
The cemetery's first Board of Managers desired to create a graveyard of great natural beauty. As cited in Erie's official documentation, they held nature in such high regard that they planned the grounds in a manner intended to "arrange for the tender mother (nature) a sanctuary wherein she could chant above the quiet slumbers her unending psalm of rest and whisper to the sorrowing and desolate that come to mourn at the chamber door her own glad story of a joyful resurrection."
Okay...so they weren't exactly the English Romantics...but their hearts were in the right place.
For those of you who relish visiting graves of historical significance, Erie boasts a list of twenty-four "Famous Residents" on its website. But don't expect to find Rockefellers or U.S. Presidents here. Most of Erie's notables have close ties to the city and their names may not seem significant to many outside the region. Likewise, many of the gravesites of these individuals are, shall we say...humble. Such is surely not true in the case of William L. Scott, however. His massive stone mausoleum, with its unique, almost home-like design, dominates the section of Erie in which it is located and might easily be mistaken for a chapel or other public building. Having amassed his fortune from coal and railroads, Scott served two terms as Mayor of Erie and also represented the district in Congress.
Having mentioned the cemetery website..... Although Erie's won't be winning "Best of the Web" anytime in the foreseeable future, it does offer a rather interesting, interactive walking tour which may be of interest to anyone planning a visit.