Location: Dawn Path, up grade off Hillside Avenue
Saved in Time: 2006
A stark and simple granite monument marks the grave of Henry Ward Beecher, the nationally renowned abolitionist and religious orator on public morality and social issues. Beginning in 1847 Beecher served as minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn Heights, and soon became the most outspoken advocate for abolition, temperance and women’s suffrage, among other causes. His church became a vital “station” on the Underground Railroad.
Beecher’s vehement oratory and dramatic actions during the period leading up to and throughout the Civil War brought him fame and controversy that would persist all through his tumultuous life. Though he never confessed to having had an adulterous affair with Elizabeth Tilton (anonymously buried nearby in Green-Wood), “The Great Scandal” significantly affected Beecher’s popularity, and his former stature as “the Great Divine” was lost forever.
Beecher is handsomely commemorated by his public monument located on city park property near Borough Hall. Created by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward and architect Richard Morris Hunt, this monument depicts Beecher standing defiantly in his great coat, flanked on either side by a young black woman figure and two children representative of his pastoral flock.
The Beecher monument at Green-Wood commemorates both Henry and his wife Eunice, who stood by him throughout. It consists of a dark gray granite die and base are in sound condition, but years of soiling have blackened the stone and obscured the “V” cut inscriptions. The granite requires thorough cleaning and stain removal, hand cleaning of the inscriptions on front and rear faces, raking and repointing of the jointing between the stones, and restoration of the grade and sodding in front of the base to cover the exposed top of the masonry foundation.
Consideration shall be given to enhancing the legibility of the principal inscriptions using gold leaf or other durable metallic coating.