The ever-popular "Voices of the Past" interpretive tours of Mount Mora Cemetery will take place October 17 and 18, 2019. With beautiful architecture as a backdrop, visitors will hear from "residents" of the cemetery as they walk along a lane in the "prettiest City of the Dead." This year two of the "It" girls of their day will greet guests at the gates of the cemetery and act as guides along Mausoleum Row. Along the way, the ladies will introduce visitors to legendary former citizens who will step out of the shadows to share their stories. The identities of the dearly departed who will appear is always a well-kept secret, but this year the stories will relate to Extraordinarily Extraordinary St. Joseph Leaders!
"Voices of the Past" 2019 will take visitors back into St. Joseph's past for a look at the people whose leadership, generosity, and vision helped to shape the city. Participants will start their tour with traditional fall treats and a chance to explore the 1879 Wyeth-Tootle Mansion and the exhibits featured in this architectural treasure. While there, guests will also meet the first character of the evening, a lady who lived in a mansion near the Wyeth-Tootle and dearly loved her electric car! Afterward, guests will board the bus for a brief ride to Mount Mora Cemetery where two socialites of yesteryear await them with stories of the parties they attended and how what they wore always made the newspaper society section. As visitors stroll along Mausoleum Row, they will meet a businessman who was a wholesaler of tobacco, coffee beans, and spices until the Great Depression caused his business to fold. Then it's on to chat with a lady who was the "organizing regent" of the St. Joseph chapter of a national organization. As a member of the House of Representatives, a gentleman will share how none other than Ulysses S. Grant defeated one of his motions! A wealthy woman who cared little for society will be waiting to explain her motivation for devoting her life to helping the poor. Her husband's family came to the city only three years after Joseph Robidoux founded it. A park, enjoyed by St. Joseph residents and tourists alike, owes its beginnings to the generosity of a gentleman with a vision for the location. A famous writer will make an appearance, too!
Established in 1851, Mount Mora is the oldest operating cemetery in St. Joseph and was once the most fashionable burial place for many of St. Joseph's wealthy and powerful citizens. The boom years of the post-Civil War period, known as St. Joseph's "Golden Age," gave rise to the building of some of the finest residential architecture in the Midwest, and to some, the finest tomb architecture as well. "Mausoleum Row," near the main gate to the cemetery, reads like a "Who's Who" of St. Joseph's economic and social elite who were vying with one another to build magnificent homes and impressive burial tombs. Twenty-one mausoleums on Mausoleum Row and nine others scattered throughout the cemetery pay tribute to turn-of-the-20th -century prosperity in St. Joseph.
"The tours are meant to educate about the fascinating history of St. Joseph and the people who built the city and saw so much change in their lifetimes. What some of them experienced was so long ago, and yet it's so easy for us to relate to today," said Suzanne Lehr, Research Associate of the St. Joseph Museums. "Mount Mora Cemetery is truly a historical and architectural treasure everyone can appreciate."
All will be revealed while you stroll the cemetery's torch-lit Mausoleum Row on Thursday, October 17 or Friday, October 18. Tour participants must be 14 years of age or older. Tours begin at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, 1100 Charles Street. On Thursday, October 17, tours will be given at 6 and 7 p.m. On Friday, October 18, tours will be available for 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 ($20 for Members of the St. Joseph Museum and/or the Mount Mora Cemetery Association.) Space is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased online at stjosephmuseum.org/events or by calling 816-232-8471. Tickets are also available at the St. Joseph Museum, 3406 Frederick Avenue.
Proceeds from "Voices of the Past" benefit the Mount Mora Restoration and Preservation Association and the educational programming at the St. Joseph Museums.
Source: St. Joseph Museums, Inc. and Mourt Mora Restoration and Preservation Association. [Website]