The Influence of Maximilian Godefroy
For its first 25 years, the burying ground remained a simple place characterized by plain grave markers. After 1810, tastes changed and First Presbyterian Church's leading public figures demanded the ornate.
The most dramatic change was a new entrance and imposing brick wall on Greene Street, completed by September 1815 at the enormous cost of more than $5000. The gates and flanking piers were designed in the Egyptian revival style by French emigre Maximilian Godefroy (1765-c.1840). The new entrance created a pronounced east-west corridor that was soon lined with impressive burial vaults.
For more information, see Robert L. Alexander's
Architecture of Maximilian Godefroy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974).
[illustration]Egyptian and Classical Motifs
The symbols on Godefroy's gates "mourn the brevity of life and celebrate the eternity of the spirit" (Robert L. Alexander, 1974). The large flanking piers are carved sandstone, a soft sedimentary stone that is prone to damage as evidenced by its present condition.Cavetto Cornice
- Hollow or concave moldingLekythoi
- Greek, or lachmyral, urns, denoting grief
Inverted Torch - Inverted or extinguished torch symbolizing death
Winged Hour Glass - Symbols of time's swift flight
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
[painting]Charming and Headstrong
Maximilian Godefroy spent 15 productive years in Baltimore beginning in 1805. Godefroy, along with the British-born Benjamin H. Latrobe, designer of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, introduced a sophisticated classically inspired architecture to early Baltimore.
by Rembrandt Peale, oil on canvas, ca. 1815
Courtesy of the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property of the Maryland State Archives
Several wealthy merchants hired Godefroy to design stylish burial vaults. His vaults for John O'Donnell, Cumberland Dugan and Robert and William Smith share similarities among their columns, doors, and details. Notice, too, Godefroy's use of slits in the masonry which allowed for air circulation, a system he also used in powder magazines at Fort McHenry.
Vaults (left-right): Dugan-Hollins, Robert and William Smith, O'Donnell
Photographs by Jennifer White, June 2006
An Indelible Stamp
Godefroy produced a number of outstanding buildings that infused taste and sophistication into early Baltimore. They include St. Mary's Chapel (located nearby, off Greene Street), Battle Monument (Calvert and Fayette Sts.) and First Unitarian Church (Charles and Franklin Sts.)