Mount Moriah Cemetery Gatehouse
6101 Kingsessing Avenue, Philadelphia
c.1855, Stephen Decatur Button
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2015: The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has determined that Mount Moriah Cemetery, including its iconic gatehouse, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This determination, which the Alliance helped to obtain, should assist cemetery stewards in raising funds to stabilize the gatehouse and plan for the long-term sustainability of the site. In December 2014, DJS Associates generously provided pro-bono 3-D laser scanning services to document the gatehouse and assist in stabilization planning. See a virtual “flyover” of the gatehouse HERE.
As one of the Philadelphia region’s largest and most significant examples of the rural cemetery movement of the nineteenth century, Mount Moriah Cemetery is truly hallowed ground. It is the final resting place of over 80,000 individuals, including veterans from every American war from the Revolution to the Korean Conflict. It is also home to an immense collection of memorial statuary, funerary art, and a landmark gatehouse designed by architect Stephen Decatur Button in 1855. Unfortunately, Mount Moriah has suffered from decades of extreme neglect by its absentee owners. Vast portions of the site were effectively abandoned and consumed by weeds, trees, and illegal dumping, and the landmark gatehouse has partially collapsed from deferred maintenance.
In 2011, the all-volunteer Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery formed to address the cemetery’s blighted and dangerous conditions, and over the last three years have coordinated one of the most ambitious and sustained volunteer efforts ever dedicated to the preservation of an historic site. But due to the site’s legal limbo, the group was prevented from undertaking critical stabilization of the cemetery’s gatehouse ruins, which have continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate.
Cemetery supporters celebrated an important legal victory this September when a Philadelphia judge officially dissolved the defunct ownership association and transferred control of the site to the newly-formed Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation. For the first time, supporters now have the legal authority to perform emergency stabilization and restoration work on the gatehouse, but time is of the essence. Without immediate attention, the gatehouse is unlikely to survive another harsh winter.
Resources and Links