Edgar John Lownes (1870-1924) was a textile manufacturer with strong ties to the design and music communities and his wife, Terèse Kaffenburg (1877-1970), and was an accomplished pianist and soprano. Given the Lownes’ interest in culture, their selection of well-known sculpture Isidore Konti (1862 -1938) to create their memorial featuring an angel in fine bronze, is not surprising. Konti was a Viennese-born artist who studied at that city’s Imperial Academy. His work is in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Nightingale Angel Monument
One of the most striking and poignant monuments in the cemetery is the one realtor Samuel A. Nightingale (1828-1906) erected in the memory of his only child, Nina (1875) who died at an early age. The large bronze monument of an angel rising heavenward bearing an infant in her arms was cast by A. Rolland. After his wife died in the year after their daughter passed, Nightingale left the family home on Hope Street and boarded at a downtown hotel. The statue is a particularly beautiful example of the funeral art typical at the turn-of-the-century.
The lot reflects the late nineteenth century interest of the customs and art of Italy, Greece and Rome. Most remarkable is the bronze sculpture created as a memorial for William Clark Sayles (1855-1876), who died while a student at Brown University. His parents employed German sculptor Henry Baerer (1837-1908), who exhibited at the National Academy of Design and whose works filled New York City’s parks, to design a pensive monument reminiscent of Michelangelo’s tomb of Lorenzo de’Medici in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence.
Rock Pond Fountain
The tranquil pond was established by the late nineteenth century and offered a desirable water feature on the inland side of the cemetery’s riverside grounds. In 1878, a large boulder was positioned in the pond and supplied with water to make the fountain. After the turn of the twentieth century, private family mausoleums became fashionable with the country’s upper-class and the area around the pond is the site of the cemetery’s most significant collection of mausolea.
Opened in 2019 in the historic core of the cemetery, The Ellipse is a designated area for “green” or natural burials, a process by which all components going into the earth are biodegradable. The grounds are surrounded by mature trees and shrubs and are kept free of monuments to preserve the natural setting. A granite ledger is located in the area’s center for communal inscriptions of names of the deceased. Swan Point is one of only a few cemeteries in Rhode Island certified by the Green Burial Council, a leading national advocate for natural burial.
J.B. Barnaby Monument
Located at the center of the grounds, the obelisk marks the burial site of dry-goods merchant, Jerothmul B. Barnaby (1830-1889), his immediate family and descendant Barnaby Keeney (1914-1980) who served as President of Brown University (1955-1966). Stylish Romanesque columns girdle the plinth, and the base and cap of the smooth obelisk are embellished with Néo-Grec friezes. The statue at top features a female holding a wreath, the standard allegorical figure of mourning. It is the tallest and one of the most well recognized monuments in the cemetery.
Italian Marble Fountain
Imported from Italy by Marsden J. Perry, the Marble Fountain was originally set up on the grounds of the John Brown House where Perry lived from 1902-1935. The Rhode Island Historical Society acquired the fountain in 1941 and subsequently gifted the fountain to Swan Point in 1961.
Memorial Grove Garden
In 1978, Swan Point set the Megalith, what is believed to be the largest single stone erected in an American cemetery, in the midst of the grove’s landscape. The boulder was found in Westerly, Rhode Island and is roughly eight feet square at the base, about seventeen feet high, and is estimated to weigh over 50 tons. According to its geology, the stone has been part of the structure of what is now Rhode Island for at least five million years. In addition to its enchanting beauty, the garden offers a preserve for the scattering of cremated remains.
Pastor’s Rest Monument
The First Unitarian Society Grounds occupies a large, five-acre ellipse in the cemetery. The Unitarians’ previous West Burial Ground, near the intersection of Interstate 95 and 195, was vacated beginning in 1848 when the remains and their Federal-era slate markers were moved to Swan Point. These grounds feature a large circular monument located in the middle of a slight rise, around which are ringed the burial sites of First Unitarian Church ministers and their families.
The Grosvenor plot is possibly the most visually stunning funerary sculptural ensemble in the cemetery due to the exclusive use of white marble with elaborately carved nineteenth century symbolism. William Grosvenor (1810-1888) was laid to rest in a sarcophagi recalling Roman sources at it features a cross atop it swathed in ivy. His wife, Rosa Ann (1817-1872), is interred in a sarcophagi more Italian Renaissance in form with its urn top filled with the ivy and roses. Adjacent are tributes to several of their children who died young and other family members.
Completed in 2005, this rustic gazebo is a replica of one dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Anthony by his wife, Sarah W. Anthony in 1885. The shelter, located near Mr. Anthony’s burial lot in the historic section of the Swan Point, is a unique feature in the cemetery landscape, combining utility and comfort with novelty and beauty of design. Its tranquil location with sweeping views of the Seekonk River has been dedicated to cremation burial. Small upright markers reminiscent of older historic lots memorialize those buried at Stranger’s Rest.
Hope Memorial Garden
Designed by Brown University art professor Richard Fishman, the focal point of the garden is a mixed-medium sculpture consisting of two triangular granite monoliths as a backdrop for an eighteenth-century anchor recovered from Narragansett Bay. The anchor is a symbol of hope and the State of Rhode Island, whose flag and seal it graces. The variety of headstones and markers in the garden reflects both the diversity of Rhode Island’s population and the cemetery’s historically inclusive philosophy.
Created in 1886 when a natural depression on the grounds was excavated to form a small pond, The Dell features a fountain which creates a stream that cascades down a rocky bed before tumbling into the pool of water below. The Dell’s popular flowering shrubs were replanted in the 1950s to include cotoneaster, pyracantha, azalea and leucothoe. For a time the pond was closed when the cost of city water became too expensive but it has been restored to its original beauty with the fountain now using well water.
Redwood Mausoleum Complex
One of the cemetery’s newest buildings is the community mausoleum complex which includes crypts, a niche room, a family room and a chapel which seats 100 people. The complex provides a tranquil, comfortable, climate-controlled environment for year-round visitation and was designed in a variation of English Country Gothic and Arts & Crafts Movement styles to blend harmoniously with the cemetery’s other buildings.
In 1903, the Butler Avenue trolley line was extended down Blackstone Boulevard and a fieldstone structure was erected opposite the cemetery entrance.
Cucumber Tree Magnolia
Weeping High Cherry
European Spindle Tree