Angels in the garden

Fairmount Park and the Picturesque Park movement of the 19th century.

Today’s urban parks were born out of the ‘English’ picturesque garden design movement of the 19th century.

In the 1900s landscape design moved away from formal geometric rationale, to the romantic, natural forms with elements added to evoke the ancient and the picturesque.

This new landscape design also created the cemetery which replaced the church graveyard in the city. The cemetery was now parklike, the graves were marked by sculptures, frequently of angels, or were designed to look like Roman ruins or temples, all to give the feeling of a place of beauty.

Tyson Gardner, a preservationist with Fairmount Park and the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, is the guide and site manager for Laurel Hill Mansion.

For the past five years he has also been researching the families and other historical aspects of the Houses of Fairmount Park.

Gardner spoke about “Angers in the Garden” during a lecture at the Community Garden Club at Wayne in November. Check out the video of the presentation below.

His book on the aesthetic experience of the garden (rural) cemetery has been in the works for sometime, an interest he has pursued since college, where he studied thanatology (death and dying), and with his graduate work in aesthetic philosophy, (aesthetics) and theology.     

Mr. Gardner also leads tours of historical sites and structures in Philadelphia for the AIA and the Preservation Alliance.

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