Designs

Not Only a Place to Rest In 1824 the residents of Hiram purchased land from Elisha Hutchinson, establishing the Fairview Cemetery as a a public burying ground for Hiram Village and Township. In spite of the advance of time and changing tastes, visitors in the 21st Century can still see the expression of social attitudes and the philosophical beliefs symbolized by the layout of trees and flowerbeds from nearly two centuries past. Visions of Greatness The original plan adheres to a rigid geometry celebrating the conquering of nature. The cemetery was laid out as a grid with parallel roadways and smaller perpendicular grassy paths. The Original 1820 plan for Fairview Even the original plants follow this grid:. The Fairview founders who were early pioneersplanted Sugar maples in a rigid linear rows following the east-west orientation of the graves paralleling the major roads withing and surrounding the cemetery. Straight trees help individuals to see stability, needed by the new residents in what was in 1824 land recently claimed from unstable wilderness. Linear Sugar Maples Pointing the Way to Eternal Life The fact that Fairview had these early trees at all reflects the knee jerk reaction to beautify the landscape with trees, the very same species of trees that had been cleared with so much effort by the same people in an effort to bring forth the bounty of God's land by clearing forest for agriculture. In this respect Fairview followed the tastes of the progressive Easterners, who viewed the reintroduction of nature as a moral virtue making city life, in this case country life less harsh, less immoral, less barren. Permanence suggested by the order the inhabitants had established and security as guaranteed by the dedication of the space for the dead for all eternity were goals met by the establishment of this and other cemeteries of the early 19th century Western Reserve settlers. Changing Tastes By 1831, tastes in America had changed and graveyards began to be replaced by rural cemeteries. The word, cemetery from the Greek for "sleeping chamber" became widely embraced as a new way of viewing death, suggesting death as a sleep, a transition from life to eternal life, keeping in line with American optimism and nationalism. Cemeteries from the 1830s through the 1870s were planned as rural landscapes with Curved Road lined with Hop Hornbeam gentle slopes, water and shade. By this time, the rigid Fairview plan was in place, well estabilished by permanent graves and long lived trees. Nonetheless, we see efforts to welcome a more informal view of nature back into the Hiram graveyard but on limited terms. The cemetery became a place for leisurely strolls, and indeed Hiram's Fairview eventually became known as "Percher's Retreat" celebrating the perpetuation of life and the living as much as the end of life and the dead. A "perch" in Hiram meant a date, so called because men helped to steady their women, "perched" on the fence that surrounded the "Old Main" of Hiram College. Fairview cemetery sprouted benches and shady spots for couples to sit and dream. Fairview's Charnel House The Charnel House, Hydrangias and Sugar Maples was built in this era to hold the dead in winter until the graves could be dug, a romantic gothic structure at the top of an arched drive. It was probably in this period that the arches of the driveways appeared, along with the fountain, the foundation of which can still be seen in the grass in front of the Charnel House. Unusual trees and shrubs, bringing complexity to the conformity of the grid street and grid sugar maple system sprouted up near individual family plots. Rather than being spoiled by increasing complexity, most would agree that the conformity of the earlier plan was too boring for modern times.