Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On a Splendid Saturday CofC Students See Magnolia Cemetery

I was so excited and proud to take my 20 College of Charleston "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living" students to Magnolia Cemetery on a special Saturday tour. On Feb. 20 we all met in front of the Stern Student Center for the short bus ride to the Cunnington Ave. Thanks to the First Year Experience program at the College for funding the transportation via Lancaster Tours.

The weather cooperated with a mild partly sunny winter afternoon. We spent a good two and a half hours on site. The first hour I had the students wander around on their own. After regrouping by the white bridge on the front lagoon, I gave the class a tour, showing the young people many of my favorite monuments and memorials. Many of them are highlighted in this video I produced last fall.

Gibbes Mausoleum, a great location for a class photo!

The students are pictured in front of the elegant Gibbes Mausoleum, which is among Magnolia most magnificent monuments. The impressive grave site, built by the man whose will left money to start Charleston's iconic Gibbes Museum, is one of many Magnolia masterpieces featured in my 2014 book, "In the Arms of Angels: Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston's Treasure of History, Mystery and Artistry."

One of the students photographed me peeking into the Gibbes Mausoleum. Not much visible now. But before some moisture damage years (or decades) ago, the glass was clear, I've been told.

Katie Kehler took this photo.

The 1850-built Receiving Tomb held caskets while many of the elaborate monuments and memorials were constructed.

I definitely wanted my students to see this structure. It was one they could enter too. A little creepy perhaps, but many did and remarked how noticeably cooler it was inside.

The Gothic Elbert Jones memorial is another of Magnolia's grand creations.

Thomas Adkins and I are checking it out. One of my students took this picture. When I figure out which one, I'll give proper photo credit.

The students had two assignments attached to this visit. One was to write a detailed (with words and photographs) post on their blogs about their impressions of this Victorian necropolis and to highlight three of their favorite grave sites.

Emily Austin took this photo.

The students were also asked to put together a second blog post documenting and interpreting ten or more of the symbols, icons and other unique markings that are common to this and other Victorian Era cemeteries.

I'd like to highlight and commend two students who did especially good work with this assignment. Here are their names with embedded links to their blogs posts on cemetery symbols and iconography: Harper Richards and Kailyn Seidling.

Fine work ladies!

Just for fun (and my own curiosity as to what they would do), I asked the students to include in their blog posts a cemetery selfie.

Well, Savannah Hirst took the creative cake with this photo (taken by a classmate) of her face on the body of a beautiful 19th century sculpture which, sadly, was vandalized of its head.

Hats of, or maybe faces off, to Savannah for this humorous image. Let's hope the spirits found it funny too!

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