Westminster's carriage gates, completed in 1815, were among the nation's first examples of Egyptian Revival architecture. Commissioned by the First Presbyterian Church, the gates were designed by Maximilian Godefroy (1765-ca.1840), a French architect who spent 15 productive years in Baltimore.
Godefroy's gates signaled the growing sophistication of this formerly austere Presbyterian burying ground (est. 1786), and anticipated shift toward a more romantic view of death and mourning. The new entrance also created a prominent east-west corridor (now obscured by the church) that was soon lined with stylish burial vaults - several designed by Godefroy himself.
Maximilian Godefroy's other surviving local work includes St. Mary's Chapel, First Unitarian Church, and the Battle Monument.
Death and Eternity Godefroy's skillful combination of Egyptian and classical symbols imparted a very direct and enduring message: while we mourn the brevity of life, we should also celebrate the eternity of the spirit. The wrought iron gates feature a Greek key border and three lachrymal urns (symbols of grief) while the sandstone piers are unmistakably Egyptian. The obelisks (monuments to the dead) contain carved relief of winged hour glasses (time's swift flight), all topped by cavetto cornices. The brick wall running along Greene Street was built at the same time as the gates.
Entrance to Westminster Cemetery Green [sic] Street by Edward J. Wunder
From Maryland Institute... Announcement Schools of Art and Design 1914-1915
First & Franklin Street Presbyterian Church Archives.