Photo credit: Nancy Kurtz , 08/1997

Property Name: Mount Auburn Cemetery
Date Listed: 9/7/2001
Inventory No.: B-5060
Location: 2614, Annapolis Rd., Baltimore, Baltimore City

Description: Mount Auburn Cemetery is located in the Westport/Mount Winans community of southwest Baltimore. The main entrance is from Waterview Avenue, which runs along the north boundary. Established in 1872, the 34-acre cemetery overlooks the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. Asphalt roadways organize the cemetery into a loose rectangular grid containing family-owned lots with monuments of various ages, materials, and styles. A receiving vault dates from the earliest period of the cemetery. An office built at a later date exhibits alterations in siding and fenestration. The entrance gate on Waterview Avenue is flanked by concrete walls. The wall on the left bears the name "MOUNT AUBURN CEMETERY"; the wall on the right carries the inscription, "FOUNDED 1872 BY REV. JAMES PECK/PASTER 1970 REV. RICHARD L. CLIFFORD." The drive from the gate intersects with the main east-west axis, which runs the length of the cemetery from Hollins Ferry Road to Annapolis Road. The cemetery office is at this central intersection. The early monuments are of marble and later are mostly of granite. Types include markers, vertical and horizontal tablets, crosses, pedestals, obelisks, shafts, cross gables, ledgers, and boundary markers. Two marble sculptures are found: a life sized angel (c. 1911) and a child (1934). Three bronze portrait medallions were used in two of the family lots owned by funeral directors; only one medallion remains. Later use of bronze is found in flush markers, most dating to the 1970s. The receiving vault is a one-room, gable-roofed brick building, rectangular in plan with a door at the west gable end. The exterior is parged and whitewashed. The roof has asbestos shingles. The iron door hangs on strap hinges within a substantial granite frame above a granite threshold. The cemetery office is a hip-roofed structure, rectangular in plan, whose vinyl siding covers a mix of materials including cinder block. The principal facade on the east elevation contains a central door flanked by another door to the south and a window to the north.

Significance: Mount Auburn Cemetery is significant for its association with African American social history in Baltimore. Dedicated in 1872 and originally known as "The City of the Dead for Colored People," Mount Auburn Cemetery was one of the first and is the only remaining cemetery owned and operated by African Americans in Baltimore; it uniquely represents the values and burial traditions of the community from the late 19th century to the present. As a cemetery, Mount Auburn is significant through its historic association with the African American community and the Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church. The congregation is one of the oldest in the city and was highly influential in organizing and providing services for the community, in the freedom movement during the Civil War, and through participation in the civil rights movement in the 20th century. The Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conducted meetings, rallies, and fundraisers at Sharp Street Church.




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