Decorative Ironwork

Iron fencing such as the lovely fence and gate that surrounds the lot of William Pope was once a common feature at Forest Hills (and other Victorian cemeteries). It is the same fencing that was used for homes and parks. Cast-iron furniture and fences were sold by iron manufacturers such as Chase Bros. & Company of Boston for use in cemeteries, gardens and homes.

Fences and gates came in many different types of designs and sizes; some, like this fancy weeping willow pattern, were especially appropriate for the family cemetery lot. Although black was more common, especially in cemeteries, occasionally iron fencing was painted white. Often, within the enclosure, iron furniture—chairs and garden benches—was placed as it would have been in one’s garden, so that visitors would have a place to rest and relax during their walk through the cemetery.

Such furnishings were mostly banished from Forest Hills in the early twentieth century, since by then they were considered ugly and out of fashion.

Cemetery superintendents all over the country came to regard the Victorian iron fencing as a nuisance; it needed yearly maintenance and was difficult to maneuver around with the new handy appliance known as the lawn mower. As a result, much of the beautiful fencing was removed (though, contrary to some urban myths, it was never used for “war efforts”—the chemical qualities of cast iron were such that it could not be recycled for this purpose), giving us the plainer—but easier to maintain—lots you see at Forest Hills and elsewhere today. There is one other surviving original iron fence at Forest Hills.

Proceed to the Mary Southwick monument.