Death is a Picnic – Ohio’s Garden Cemeteries – New Ohio Book Project

A few weeks ago I received an email from Pat Williamsen, Executive Director of Ohio Humanities, a Columbus, Ohio-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and an organization that provides programs and broad support for the arts, history, literature, and other cultural activities throughout the Buckeye State. Pat was interested in using some of my photographs of Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati and Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland to illustrate an article in the Spring, 2021 issue of Pathways, a magazine published by Ohio Humanities three times each year, on Ohio’s garden cemeteries, which are some of the most beautiful and historic outdoor places in the Buckeye State. The photo on the cover of this issue, shown above, shows Dexter Mausoleum, a striking Gothic building at Spring Grove Cemetery, one of America’s largest and most spectacular garden cemeteries.        

The images shown above and below are screen shots of the 4-page article, which is entitled Death is a Picnic, by Columbus writer Tim Feran, and illustrated with five of my photographs of Lake View Cemetery near University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio. I have visited Lake View Cemetery many times over the years, and each trip reveals new vistas of the beautiful landscapes, memorials, and other burial structures that have made Lake View one of Cleveland’s most popular tourist destinations. The Spring Grove cover image was made with one of my Nikon digital SLR cameras, but all five of the Lake View Cemetery photos were taken with one of my favorite cameras, an iPhone, specifically the  iPhone 6, one of the early iPhone models that I purchased in October, 2016. 

A printed copy of Pathways requires a subscription, but you can read a digital version of the Ohio garden cemeteries article here.              

Coincidentally, a few weeks before I received Pat Williamsen’s email, I had several phone conversations with Randall Lee Schieber, a good friend and fellow Ohio landscape photographer from Columbus with whom I had collaborated on my most recent book, Ohio in Photographs: A Portrait of the Buckeye State, published by Ohio University Press in 2017. Randall had carried out the photography for an earlier book, Beauty in the Grove: Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, published in 2010 by Orange Frazer Press. In a nutshell, Randall and I have decided to collaborate on another exhibit-format book that celebrates Ohio’s most beautiful and interesting cemeteries. Ohio in Photographs included landscape images from all 88 of Ohio’s counties, and our new book, with a working title of Places of Silence: Ohio’s Cemeteries & Burial Grounds, will include photographs of cemeteries from each of Ohio’s 88 counties as well as a guide to some of the most interesting cemeteries in the Buckeye State. I plan to cover 44 of Ohio’s northern counties and the remaining 44 southern Ohio counties will be explored by Randall Lee Schieber. The text for the book will be written by Robin Smith, who has a passion for Ohio’s cemeteries and has written many articles about them. Ohio University Press has agreed to design and publish this new book, which will be released in Spring/Summer, 2023. 

We realize that this new book is a grave undertaking, but we are dead certain that you will enjoy the beauty and rich history of Ohio’s finest cemeteries!         


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I look forward to the publication of your new book.

    Yes, Ohio has thousands of unique and spectacular cemeteries – large and small – city and rural.

    Indeed, cemeteries are sacred spaces to be respected through preservation and protection.
    Each one is historic in its own right.

    Sadly, some cemeteries are not maintained as well as they should be. All cemeteries are vulnerable to vandalism. There has been too much local apathy resulting in poor upkeep.
    Please visit and support your community’s cemeteries and learn more about them. Each one is full of history that perhaps cannot be found anywhere else and deserving of our respect.

    Thank you.

  2. It is so nice to learn about your book focusing on some of Ohio’s most well-known and beloved cemeteries. There are so many reasons to visit a cemetery and gain a greater appreciation of their unique historical landscapes where our ancestors found rest and eternal peace. We need to understand how important they are to the cultural heritage of our communities deserving of our respect and protection.

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