Lowell Cemetery was chosen to be included on the National Register of Historic Places in May of 1998.
The Lowell Cemetery was conceived by a group of prominent Lowell citizens in 1840 as a private, non-sectarian, non-profit cemetery corporation. The Cemetery was dedicated on June 20, 1841, at a time when there were no parks in Lowell, and it soon became a place of refuge for outdoor pleasures such as strolling and bird watching amid shrubs and flowers close to the city.
A visit to the Cemetery today and an examination of the stones and tombs all evoke memories of Lowell’s past and the lives of some of its most prominent citizens and the part they played in the development of their city, state and nation in war, as well as in peace. It is the memory of these ancestors that makes the Cemetery a very special place to visit.
The Lowell Cemetery was modeled after Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, which was organized a few years earlier as the first garden cemetery in America. These new cemeteries emphasized the physical beauty of the surroundings and created a restful sanctuary for those contemplating the departed, which was in sharp contrast to earlier burial grounds, crowded and unorganized, sometimes dispassionate and severe.
To accomplish these ends, the Lowell corporators chose an eminent surveyor, George P. Worcester, to design their chosen site with its natural setting of hillocks and trees. He enhanced his work by designing curved roads and paths under a planned canopy of oaks, beeches and ashes. As the Cemetery grew, some local citizens memorialized their dead with elaborate carvings of stone, and the grounds became a depository of cemetery art. Many of these stones are of elaborate design by local artists to be studied and admired. Some few are even carved by internationally famous sculptors.
In 1885 a solid granite chapel was donated and erected by a benevolent lot owner in memory of her husband. This physical structure is today regularly available for memorial services.
Majestic gateways into the Cemetery Park were also gifts by local benefactors and added to the beauty of the site, now comprising 85 acres.
A Revised Edition of “Mourning Glory” – The Story of the Lowell Cemetery is now available for purchase in the Lowell Cemetery office, The Lowell Historical Society office at the foot of John Street in Lowell and Barnes and Noble on Merrimack Street. The publication describes the origin and history of the Lowell Cemetery. Published by the Lowell Historical Society.
Video Tape & DVD
Also available is a VHS Video Tape and DVD of many interesting sites and monuments with Catherine Goodwin describing the history of the Lowell Cemetery. Catherine Goodwin is a noted historian and an active member of the Lowell Historical Society.
Catherine L. Goodwin, 89, of Chelmsford died on June 15, 2011 in Lowell.
Born in Dracut, MA to Roland M. and Louisa Pearce Hill, Catherine married John A. Goodwin in 1943, and raised four children in Lowell and Chelmsford. Catherine graduated from Dracut HS and in 1943 from Lowell State Teachers College. She served as President of her college class from 1940 onward, organizing class reunions through their 65th in 2008. U Lowell recognized her alumni participation with the 1993 Distinguished Alumni Graduate Award.
She was a life-long learner and is best remembered for her varied roles in sharing local history. She not only unearthed historical facts, but discerned the social context and personalities she researched, often with a subtle sense of humor. Beginning in the 1970s, she planned exhibitions for Lowell Museum relating to mill city life: china typical of 1880s in Lowell, silver by Lowell silversmiths, ladies underwear, portraits of historic Lowell people and personalities. In the 1980s for the Whistler House, she researched early Lowell artists, particularly the Shutes and Thomas Cantwell Healy; and for artist Samuel P. Howes, two years of her work culminated in an exhibition and catalog. She planned the Whistler House 100th Anniversary and hung every painting Whistler House owned. She oversaw the beginning of their conservation program. In the early 2000s, she presented “Ladies of Lowell” exhibition and lecture series. Together with her husband John, she presented lectures on a variety of topics to Lowell, Dracut and Chelmsford historical societies.
Catherine is well known for her association with Lowell Cemetery. She originated tours of the cemetery in 1981, and became the cemetery’s first female Trustee in 1991. Her lasting legacy is the definitive book she researched and wrote Mourning Glory: The Story of Lowell Cemetery (1992). Her husband John took most of the photos for the book, and daughter Elizabeth helped her revise a 2nd edition in 2002.
Catherine and John together received a Lowell Community Service Award in 2007, and were commended as “‘local treasures’ whose contributions in the areas of local history, education, art and human services have enriched our quality of life.”
Earlier, she actively participated in a number of cultural and charitable organizations, serving on the boards of directors for Lowell Mental Health Asso., Florence Crittenton League, International Institute, Whistler House Museum of Art, and Lowell Historical Society. In the 1990s she participated in the Association for Gravestone Studies. She was a life-long member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Lowell and active summers at St. Peter’s by the Sea in Ogunquit, ME. She was always a gracious and welcoming hostess to family and friends, and entertained them with amusing stories.
She is survived by husband John A. Goodwin, children Elizabeth A. Long (Robert) of Lisle, IL, William B. Goodwin (Meredith) of Whitehouse Station, NJ, Jean C. Demetracopoulos (John) of S. Berwick, ME, and seven adult grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She was preceded in death by daughter Catherine Ruth Goodwin. She is also survived by sisters Rowena Scott (Dover, DE) and Irene Vallee (Fort Collins, CO).
A memorial service will be celebrated Saturday, August 6 at 11:00 am at the Lowell Cemetery Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Middlesex Community College’s Catherine L. Goodwin Scholarship Fund [c/o MCC Foundation, PO Box 716, Bedford, MA 01730], Whistler House Museum of Art [243 Worthen Street, Lowell, MA 01852-1822], or Lowell Cemetery [77 Knapp Avenue, Lowell, MA 01852-4240].