This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A correspondent sends us the following from the pen of a citizen of Utica, - and we have from Mr. Roderick Campbell the favor of photographs of the buildings. The idea is excellent, and promises to be very popular.
When the Mort chapel was erected in Forest Hill Cemetery by the late Mrs. Silas D. Childs, the trustees of the cemetery thought that a suitable place had been secured for holding the final services over the remains of the dead. Experience proved, however, that it was unsuited to this purpose in winter. As the building is constructed of stone, its temperature is very low in winter, and as during this season bodies are kept in the catacombs till spring, the application of heat is out of the question. On many days it was colder in the building than out of doors. The trustees therefore determined to provide a building which could be used at all seasons of the year.
The conservatory is constructed in the form of a triple arch, the middle arch being the highest. The side arches, or lean-tos, join the main arch just beyond the highest part of their curve. The conservatory proper is 80x36 feet in size, and constructed almost wholly of glass. In front of the building is a porch, or porte du chaise, 12x13, supported by two pillars, under which the funeral parties alight without exposure. On entering, the visitor finds himself in a vestibule, 20x16 feet, separated from the rest of the building by glass partitions. From the vestibule a door opens into the auditorium and conservatory. This part of the building is 60 feet in length.
The auditorium is 16 feet wide, and directly under the main arch which is 25 feet high. The floor is laid with alternate strips of ash and black walnut, sufficient space being left between the strips to allow the heat to rise from below. On either side are benches, of the same material, for those attending funerals. Under the side arches, which are 13 feet high, are flower beds, 10 feet wide, extending on either side the whole length of the building. Hot-houses are divided off by a glass partition in the front part of the building on either side of the vestibule, where tropical plants, requiring a higher temperature, are kept. From the vestibule a stairway leads to a gallery of the same size as the vestibule, and from which a very good view of the interior can be obtained. On the west of the conservatory, and about the centre of it, is the tower and observatory, 40 feet high. In the basement of this are two large boilers, which supply the building with heat. The heated water from these boilers flows through 2,000 feet of three-inch pipes, laid under the floor beds, and when cooled returns to the boilers to be warmed over again.
Twenty-five tons of coal were used in heating the conservatory during the past winter, which is only one-quarter of the amount first estimated.
It is the only building of the kind in the world, and reflects great credit on its originator and designer, Thomas Hopper. Roderick Campbell, a genial son of Scotia, has been engaged as florist. For the past five years he has had charge of a private conservatory in Brooklyn, and for fifteen years before that time, was engaged in the same occupation in his native country. He is familiar with the common and botanical name of every plant in the building.
The cost of the whole has been in the neighborhood of $13,000, which includes the fitting up of the gardener's cottage, just east of the conservatory.
Death is always an unwelcome visitor, whether he comes to the aged or the young, the high or the lowly. On the death of a friend or relative, the mind is instinctively lifted from things earthly to the world beyond. At such times the stern realities of life grate harshly on the finer sensibilities of human nature, and add to the sufferings of those already deeply afflicted. Not many years ago it was customary for relatives and friends to gather around the grave at the time of burial. As the beloved form was lowered into the dark, damp earth, it seemed as if all hopes of ever seeing it again went down with it. The heavy clods which rattled on the coffin lid, fell with equal weight upon the grief-stricken hearts of the mourners. It mattered not if the winter's wind moaned drearily through the tree-tops, and chilled the forms of those in waiting till they seemed to feel the coldness of the grave; or if the summer's rain fell thick and fast like their tears. Death is no respecter of times or persons, and the sad duties were performed under circumstances which made one shudder at their recollection.
Now all this is changed. When a body is brought for interment, it is first taken to the conservatory, which is in itself a paradise. Though life may have been darkened with shadow, here all is bright. The turmoil and bustle of life may have broken the heart worn with care; here the silence is only broken by the glad songs of birds and the music of the fountain. Rugged, desolate and dreary the paths of life often are; here all is beautiful as a fairy scene, beautiful beyond comparison with other earthly scenes; carrying the thoughts with those who have gone before, to that Eden where sin, and sorrow, and suffering are unknown: " Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." The coffin is placed in the centre of the auditorium when the final services are held, and a last look at the face of the loved one is taken. None can regret leaving their dead in such a place. On either side are beds of blossoming flowers, beautiful camellias, calla lilies, pelargoniums, azaleas, acacias, rhododendrons, geraniums, and other hothouse plants. Here is also a large lemon tree in bud, flower and fruit. Overhead are rustic hanging baskets, magnificent in their variegated colors. Ivies and other creeping vines twine around the pillars and arches supporting the roof.
To these will be added a variety of tropical trees and plants, such as palms, palmettos, orchids, passion flowers, and the finest of tropical plants.
Comes winter, with its cold chilling the earth and wrapping it in a winding-sheet. The windows of the lodge look out from under its snowcapped gothic gables as if half asleep. The thick branches of the fir bend beneath the weight of the fleecy substance which falls on mound and monument alike. It is the sleep of nature, cold and cheerless as death itself. But under the shining arch of the conservatory, life and perpetual summer reign. Here, in warmth and light, surrounded by beautiful buds and blossoms, amid the cheerful songs of birds and the murmur of the fountain which flows as ceaselessly as time - here we leave our dead, and our last thoughts of them will always be associated with this place. The seasons may come and go, but in this spot made sacred by hallowed recollections, will be perennial spring. Here too, in after days, we will love to sit and call up memories, sad, but full of holy joy, and hold sweet communion with those who have been transplanted to the great garden above.