1920's Cemetery Gates Restored for New Duty
Originally Donated by William H.H. Moody
Soon, elaborate gates will once again be adorning the entrances to two City-owned cemeteries.
In 1923, William H.H. Moody, a Claremont businessman who would go on to donate land for Moody Park, graciously donated five sets of gates and pillars to local cemeteries. These once elaborate structures consist of two pair of double gates and two walk gates. Made by the Steward Iron Works Co. in Cincinnati, OH, in the 1920s, they measure 12’ in width in the middle and 6’ in the width for the side entrances. In the center, the gates stand 9’ high. Moody said “The new gates add the final touch to extensive improvements to our cemeteries.”
The gates and pillars that once stood at the Main St. entrance were completely destroyed more than 20 years ago, according to the City. As a result, they were stored in a scrap pile in the DPW yard and were only recently retrieved and restored by 3-D Welding Co. However, funds are now needed to rebuild the pillars.
In an effort to restore some of Claremont’s history, “We are now embarking on a campaign to seek donations for the Mt. View Cemetery pillars,” said DPW office manager Norma Limoges. “Should funds allow, we will utilize any additional money to repair the gates and pillars to the West Pleasant Street Cemetery.”
Limoges said that “One day I was just walking around the building and saw the tops of these gates in the snow. It intrigued me, so I investigated. I found about 20 years ago, someone struck the pillars with a large truck and consequently, when the pillar was destroyed, the gates fell over. DPW must have picked them up and ‘stored’ them in the back yard. Even some tree branches had grown around them over this period of time. They were intact but certainly needed to be refurbished. I was afraid that at some point, they could have been sold for scrap. 3-D welding of Claremont transported them to their shop and made them look like a million bucks! They even have the original gold medallion from the shipping company in NYC.”
Limoges went on, “Upon further research, I was able to locate all of the information about Mr. Moody’s gifts and I even have the Eagle Times 1923 stories of the cemetery gates and his death article. He gave so much to the City and I felt an obligation to restore this gift in a place where so many of the people who ‘built’ Claremont have been laid to rest. We owe a great deal to those who have enriched our lives.”
Limoges said that “I then decided to request funds from the banks. I received contributions from the Claremont Savings, the Bank of NH and the Sullivan Lodge 12 IOOF. Those funds were enough to restore the gates but not to build new pillars to secure them. Thus, my next quest for funding.”
Mt. View Cemetery (7,791 graves) and West Pleasant Street Cemetery (6,058 graves, some of which are Civil War veterans) are the two-City owned cemeteries that are home to these failing structures.
Anyone who would like to contribute to this project may do so by making a tax-deductible contribution to the City of Claremont —Gate Restoration Project, mailing it to the City of Claremont’s Finance Director, 58 Opera House Square, Claremont, NH 03743. Please indicate “cemetery gate project” on the check.
For additional information, please contact Limoges at 603-504-0351.