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Memento Mori Cemetery
By Lisa Johnson and Charles Leach, M.D.
We call it “Memento Mori,” that tree-shaded hill of grave markers visible behind a dark picket fence and Egyptian Revival gate with its papyrus columns. Thousands pass it daily in their cars. Of these, very few know the story of Farmington’s ancient graveyard.
“Memento Mori” says the gate – a short imperative sentence traceable to Roman times. Though the gate was erected in the 1840s (in imitation of New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery gate), the message comes straight from our Puritan forebears: “Remember that you die.” (Latin scholar Rose Greenwald explains that both words are “deponent verbs”, which explains the seemingly odd construction).
Today, Memento Mori is a property of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association, a nonprofit organization that is also responsible for the Farmington Library, Stanley-Whitman House and Village Green. The association, through the management of Stanley-Whitman House, protects, documents and maintains the cemetery and actively restores deteriorated markers. This work is important, since the yard is such a powerful link to the history of our town.
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