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June 12, 2024

Green Mount Cemetery: more than dead bodies!

By RENEE SCAVONE | March 8, 2018

As a rule, I try not to encourage general audiences to hang out with a bunch of dead bodies.

However, exceptions must be made.

Initially, I felt bad about recommending the Green Mount Cemetery as a destination for friends to go to when they need to clear their minds and take a breather. However, I’ve recently found the “Visit” page on their website, so I figure it’s fair game.

I first went to Green Mount for a school assignment last year, and I was honestly surprised at how big it was. Some of my favorite things about Baltimore are its little pockets of green, tiny vacations from city life. 

Furthermore, it is home to animals that we city dwellers don’t usually get to see, including foxes, owls and, though spotted only once, a wild turkey.

While there’s another article to be written about the amount of easily accessible natural spaces in urban environments, when one only considers Green Mount for its most wholesome qualities, the space is certainly a delight.

Of course, there is the matter of the hundreds of tombstones rising out of that beautiful grass — definitely a big part of the aesthetic.

If you want to go in with a flexible sort of plan, you can purchase a map and some other informational materials at the front gate.

I recommend going down “Oliver’s Walk,” which takes visitors to the highest spot in the cemetery. From there you can look out to the Inner Harbor and see the city’s skyline.

If you want the full experience, however, there’s really only one way to go about it: a walking tour guided by Wayne Schaumburg. 

The Hopkins grad and retired Baltimore City Schools teacher will not only take you to some of Green Mount’s most famous graves but can provide additional historical facts about the cemetery itself.

The next set of Mr. Schaumburg’s tours are May 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Of course, if you’re more of a choose-your-own-adventure type, you can go rogue without a map or a guide. If so, you should come in knowing whose graves you want to see and where those graves are.

Green Mount uses a very straightforward numbering system for its graves, which can be looked up online. Of course, you have to make sure to check out the final resting place of our very own Johns Hopkins, but my personal favorite grave belongs to John Wilkes Booth.

The assassin is buried under a plain, nameless tombstone, with a bigger marker to assure guests that it isn’t just a poorly placed rock. Of course, there’s also a very obvious indicator: Visitors have covered the stone in pennies as an homage to President Lincoln.

There’s also the cemetery’s sprawling collection of names we know and sort of love: Latrobe, Walters and Enoch Pratt are just some of Green Mount’s most notable “residents.”

If you’re not into the morbid, make the trip for the architecture at least. The on-grounds chapel is a gothic revival piece designed by John Rudolph Niernsee and James Crawford Neilson and can be visually described as “Evil Disneyland Castle.”

There are other buildings, but what more could you ask for?

To get to Green Mount, you can take the JHMI to its Station North stop and head south on St. Paul Street from there. Take a right on Lafayette and then keep walking until you see one of the cemetery’s big stone walls. Walk south alongside it until you get to the entrance on Greenmount Avenue and Oliver Street. 

Be respectful when you go, but have fun exploring, and tell a bunch of mayors, actors and philanthropists I say hi.

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