I’ve been spending a good portion of my time off in Vermont these days- driving through small, quaint communities and listening to music or stopping to take pictures of the scenery while I social distance and savor the fresh air. Vermont is an interesting state- filled with all sorts of unusual history and attractions- one of which happens to be along the roadside when traveling through the small town of Shrewsbury.
I’m a sucker for a grandiose gesture of love and devotion- so when I first saw a life-sized marble statue of a man looking into a crypt, perched at the top of a hill in a little cemetery off of Route 103- I immediately pulled over to do a bit of research before I went to check it out.
And the story behind the larger than life monument is a touching and heartbreaking one.
By 1880, tanning magnate John Porter Bowman had suffered three significant losses- his two daughters and his wife. Grief-stricken, Bowman had a mausoleum erected in Laurel Glen Cemetery in Shrewsbury. Outside the entrance, he commissioned an architect to build a statue in his likeness so that he could forever look over his family. Once completed, Bowman then constructed Laurel Hill- a summer mansion directly across the street which still stands today and overlooks the cemetery.
Bowman went on to join his family with his passing in 1891- but by then the mausoleum and the home had already gone on to become a popular tourist attraction.
I was the only one there when I’d stopped to take a closer look- and it was beautiful. The statue and the marble work within the mausoleum- which was visible through an iron gate- were so well done. You could tell that Bowman had gone to great lengths and spared no expense when it came to paying tribute to those he held most dear to him.
And although I didn’t get any photos of Laurel Hill (which looked like it was in the process of being spruced up a bit)– it was an impressive home that I’m sure will look lovely once renovations/repairs are completed.
The mausoleum may be considered morbid to some- but it’s one of those hidden gems I love to stumble upon here in New England- with an interesting and compelling history.