Officially dedicated on July 13, 1839 and born out of the garden cemetery movement, Green Mount Cemetery is one of the first garden cemeteries created in the United States. After seeing the beautiful Mount Auburn Cemetery in Connecticut in 1834, Samuel Walker, a tobacco merchant, led a campaign to establish a similar site in Baltimore. During a time in which overcrowded church cemeteries created health risks in urban areas, Walker's successfully garnered support and commissioned plans from architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, II to establish the Green Mount Cemetery on sixty acres of the late merchant Robert Oliver's estate.
During his life, Walker spared no expense tailoring the beauty of the estate, and left the grounds highly ornamented upon his death. Latrobe's design incorporated all the beautiful features associated with garden cemeteries including dells, majestic trees, and numerous monuments and statues. Amongst the towering hardwood trees in the cemetery is a rare, small-flowered red rose known as the Green Mount Red. Created by Green Mount Cemetery's first gardener, James Pentland, the Green Mount Red can only be found here at Green Mount and on George F. Harison's grave at Trinity Church Cemetery in New York.
Walking into Green Mount Cemetery, the first thing visitors notice is the imposing Entrance Gateway designed by Robert Cary Long, Jr. An example of the Gothic style, the gateway features two towers reaching forty feet and beautiful stained glass windows. The haunting chapel, designed by John Rudolph Niernsee and James Crawford Neilson, is made of Connecticut sandstone and features flying buttresses and an impressive 102 foot spire.
Green Mount Cemetery is famously known as the resting place of a large number of prominent historical figures ranging from John Wilkes Booth, to local philanthropists Johns Hopkins and Enoch Pratt. The graves and sculptures that scatter the cemetery make Green Mount Cemetery a treasury of nineteenth century art.
William Henry Rinehart, considered the last important American sculptor to work in the classical style, had many commissions at Green Mount, and is credited with some of the cemeteries most awe-inspiring pieces. Commissioned by Henry Walters for the grave of his wife, Ellen Walters, Rinehart's "Love Reconciled as Death" depicts a classical Grecian woman cast in bronze strewing flowers. Poetically resting on Rinehart's own grave is his bronze statue of Endymion: the beautiful young shepherd boy who Zeus granted both eternal youth and eternal sleep.
Perhaps the most striking sculpture in the Green Mount Cemetery is the Riggs Memorial, created by Hans Schuler. Schuler was the first American sculptor to win the Salon Gold Medal in Paris, and his mastery shows in the Riggs Monument depicting a grieving woman slouched over a loved one's grave, holding a wreath in one hand and a drooping flower in the other.