Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pioneer Cemetery Nevada City

Last week I attended the 35th annual California Preservation Foundation (CPF) conference in Nevada City and Grass Valley – the gold country. According to the conference brochure, “Nevada City once had a larger population than San Francisco and was considered as the first capitol of California at statehood.” In 1985, preservationist succeeded in having the entire downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I think it may have been the best conference I’ve ever attended – due in large part to the venue, and also the consistently high caliber of speakers. Like many conferences the schedule was intense – the moment I walked into the Miners Foundry on Tuesday evening I felt drawn into a vortex of intense preservation that I didn’t escape until Saturday as I headed home.

I did carve out a few hours of unscheduled time between education sessions, when I checked out a few of Nevada City’s shops, had lunch, and took a self-guided tour of town enjoying a wonderful collection of well-maintained historic homes and gardens. Just beyond downtown I was drawn to the Pioneer Cemetery, established in 1851, on West Broad Street. It is a small cemetery located adjacent to a newer, more modern burial ground. The Pioneer cemetery is located on a knoll surrounded by mature Ponderosa Pines with an understory of grasses, some wildflowers and a few hardy shrubs and ground covers.

Many of the graves were marked with small, simple wood markers. Some had marble headstones while many had no marker at all. The graves that most interested me were those that were surrounded by ornamental iron fences set in granite curbs. The fences varied from very simple, light-weight hoops (Alphonse and Keller), to richly detailed pressed metal (CF Taylor and Burnett).

The Meredith monument had solid cast-iron corner posts and the fence was made from ¾” thick cast iron. The gate had heavy-duty hinges and latches that have not failed after 150 seasons of snow and summer heat. The marble obelisk was engraved, “Brave, gifted, generous and faithful closed a life of usefulness and purity by a death of honor”.

Top Photo: Grave of William Alphonse; 2nd Photo: MW Burnett; Third Photo: CF Taylor 18440 - 1922; Fourth Photo: Frederick, Rosa and Nicolas Keller; Photo Below: Henry Meredith.

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