Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Spring Grove Cemetery


Spring Grove Cemetery dates back to 1844 and, at 733 acres, it is the second largest cemetery in the United States, behind only Arlington National Cemetery. It was founded by members of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, who hired a renowned landscape architect to design it. The architect, Adolph Strauch, envisioned a "garden cemetery" filled with lakes, trees, and shrubs and, as a result, the cemetery remains one of the most picturesque places in the city, and it is extremely popular both for 5k races and for casual walkers.



I got the idea to use Spring Grove for my "S" post when I wrote about the Music Hall ghosts, and learned that the cemetery is, unsurprisingly, another local place that is filled with stories of hauntings and ghost sightings. I couldn't resist making a trip there myself.

I was at the cemetery in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day, and I didn't get any sense of ghosts lurking about while I explored. But I was a bit taken back by the number of old mausoleums that dot the landscape. I thought this one was particularly spooky, as I could see what looked like a painting or stained glass window on the inside.


The door itself was creepy to me, with its huge padlock and engraved date. I wondered if that padlock has been in place since 1911.



These mausoleums were everywhere, and the majority of them belonged to famous names in Cincinnati history. There are also soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War buried on the grounds, and I came upon this memorial to what appears to be a Civil War soldier several times while driving around.


One of the most famous ghost stories about Spring Grove concerns the Norman Chapel.


It's a gorgeous building that is actually used for weddings now, but its history is not so pleasant. Built in 1880, the chapel was originally used by the cemetery as a jail, and bars can still be seen on the basement windows. Night guards were posted to stand watch over the jail, and were given orders to shoot trespassers as thieves. Now, visitors to Spring Grove have reported eerie cries coming from the chapel basement, and cameras have captured unexplained images outside the structure.

When I visited Spring Grove, I was most interested in seeing the grave of C.C. Breuer, an optometrist who died in 1908. According to legend, Breuer decreed that, upon his death, his eyes were to be removed from his body and encased in glass, then placed inside the bronze bust on his headstone so that he could watch over his grave for eternity. Visitors to the grave have reported that the eyes appear to dilate and follow the path of anyone who passes by his memorial.


Unfortunately, I never made it to see the Breuer eyes for myself, as I could never find the bust. I've mentioned before on this blog that I am a master at getting lost, so I knew I was going to be in trouble when I heard that Spring Grove is an easy place to get lost in. I never need any help.

It didn't take long before all of the mausoleums and gigantic obelisks began to look exactly the same to me, and I started to feel like a rat stuck in a maze. Especially as I passed the soldier monument for what felt like the hundredth time. When I finally came to the exit, I just wanted out and no longer cared about seeing Mr. Breuer's eyes.

Other stories of Spring Grove involve visitors feeling as if they are being watched, or insisting they've been touched on the shoulder, only to turn and find no one there. In addition, one of the mausoleums is reportedly guarded by the spirits of two white wolves who stare at intruders with glowing eyes.

I can't say I had any strange experiences while visiting Spring Grove but, at the same time, I have no desire to go there at night. And, while I know the cemetery is very popular with walkers, I definitely prefer to do my walking in the park.

28 comments:

  1. As weird as it is, I've always liked wondering around cemeteries.

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  2. You have to find that bust now! I want to know about the eyes.

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  3. Spring Grove looks like a park from some of the pictures you posted.
    I'm with Alex: you have to find that bust and report back!

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  4. I want to know all about those eyes! How creepy fantastic is that? Cemeteries and ghosts get me every time. I love the places and Spring Grove sounds amazing.

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  5. You totally have to go find the optometrist's eyes. That is so weird! It looks like a beautiful place. The creepiest cemeteries to me are in New Orleans.

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  6. Looks like a great place for a nighttime ghost tour.

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  7. I'm not a big cemetery fan. I think I'd rather walk on the street.

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  8. Last year I went on an American tour, On Memorial Day we visited Wasington DC.....IT WAS 91 DEGREES.
    We also went on to visit Arlington Cememtary, I was overwhelmed at the flags put out on the soliers graves.

    I enjoyed your post it was so interesting and the pictures superb.
    Have a peaceful Sunday,

    Yvonne.

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  9. Beautiful pictures. The stories about the cemetery were creepy and awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. A fascinating post. As I try to cover haunted castles on A-Z I was intrigued by the ghostly connections in this cemetery - especially the eyes.

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  11. Between that chapel and the optometrist's eyes, I am totally freaked out - even though it's early morning here and the sun is shining. Yikes! :o

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  12. @Alex, LOL, I will try. Honestly I really want to see them myself, it's so bizarre.

    @Susan, it really does feel like a park, it's a lovely place. Just a bit spooky too LOL.

    @Melissa, I love ghost stories too, so fun. :)

    @deathwriter, oh, I can imagine the cemeteries in New Orleans are creepy, yikes.

    @Michael, I'm kind of surprised they don't do any night tours, although maybe it's because some areas of the cemetery are still in use so it would be disrespectful. But the old part would be perfect.

    @Carol, me too LOL.

    @Yvonne, oh, I've been to DC when it is really hot like that, it's miserable. Arlington is a beautiful place though. I can imagine the flags were overwhelming.

    @Jessica, I'm glad you liked it, thank you!

    @Bob, oh, I want to read about the haunted castles now, will be over to check out your blog.

    @Madeline, LOL, yeah, I'm still creeped out by the eyes. So bizarre!!

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  13. @Gwen, sorry I missed your comment before, Blogger marked it as spam for some reason. I don't think it's weird, I think old cemeteries are really interesting. Just creepy LOL.

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  14. Hello, Julie! This is really interesting. I like wandering around cemeteries and wondering about the lives of the people who lay there. There's definitely inspiration for character and story ideas in a cemetery. But I wouldn't want to visit one at night, either, eeek!

    Hope you're having a lovely weekend and happy A to Z!!

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  15. Wow, what a cool post! Love the photo of that bridge.

    The guy with the eyes is creepy. And I swear, Julie, you and I should never walk down stairs or try and find a place together. We'll both end up lost at the bottom of a staircase on our butts.

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  16. @Laura, that's a great point about the character ideas. Thanks, I hope you've had a great weekend too!

    @LG, LOL, that is definitely the truth. I am really only safe going out when I have someone with me who can navigate, otherwise it's always courting disaster.

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  17. What a beautiful cemetery. I grew up next to one and I've always found them very peaceful.

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  18. You were very brave wandering through the cemetery and looking for that optometrist's grave! That is a great story about the eyes, but I certaintly wouldn't want to look directly at them by myself. Julie

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  19. What a beautiful resting place. I could almost hear the birds chirp and the water fall in the fountains. But, er, I wouldn't go there at night either.

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  20. @Christine, oh, that's interesting you grew up next to a cemetery. This one really is beautiful.

    @Julie, yeah, it's probably just as well I never found the optometrist, I've no doubt the eyes would have totally creeped me out.

    @Kittie,LOL, definitely a place for the daylight hours.

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  21. I love old cemeteries. They are fascinating. It makes you wonder how these people lived when you wander around and see the dates on some of the headstones. Great post.

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  22. @ladydragonfly, that's exactly what I thought when I was looking at some of these headstones, you just can't help but wonder who these people were and what their lives were like. Thanks!

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  23. Wow, that's a fancy cemetery! Graveyards used to creep me out, but they don't bother me anymore. Much.

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  24. @Theresa, I know, I couldn't believe how ornate everything there was. Kind of bizarre.

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  25. Hi Julie .. fascinating that the Horticultural Society founded the cemetery - I guess it solved two problems .. a place they could practise their plantings and somewhere for the city's dead.

    It looks amazing and I love your tour you've given us .. even if you got lost!! It looks brilliant to look around though .. but getting married in a haunted church/jail .. doesn't appeal much!!

    Cheers Hilary

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  26. @Hilary, I thought exactly the same thing! I wouldn't want to get married in a cemetery chapel even if it is a beautiful place. No surprise I got lost, of course! :D

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  27. Wow! Such a beautiful and a tad creepy cemetery!

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  28. @Cherie, my thoughts exactly LOL. It's gorgeous but also creeps me out.

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Thank you for your comments!