Friday, June 1, 2012

The Appleton Monument

This massive granite monument with its carved palm fronds atop and heavy granite coping enclosing the lot was erected for a well-to-do Albany merchant named William Appleton.

William Appleton, who resided at 188 Washington Avenue, is listed in old city directories as being in the produce business with stores located at 71 Quay Street and 4 and 87 Bowery (now Central Avenue).

Born in Goodmanham, Yorkshire in 1811, William Appleton came to Albany after the loss of a substantial inheritance and entered the grain and malting businesses.  Later, he would also own a number of barges which traveled up and down the Hudson River between Albany and New York City.  He would also become one of the largest owners of real estate in the Albany area. 

In 1844, William Appleton married Jerusha Frisbee; they would have eight children.

A decade and a half after his death in 1870, Appleton was remembered with great respect:

His life though quiet and retiring was full of good deeds. He was, in an unostentatious way, one of the most benevolent of men and many poor people of Albany to whom his death brought sadness can testify to his kindness and liberality.  Highly esteemed by all who knew him, he was one of the most welcome of friends and companions and his extensive knowledge of a wide range of subjects made him very interesting in conversation. He was a model husband and father and with his family he was exceptionally liberal and painstaking. His home was the place of all places where he loved to spend his time and upon it he lavished care and expense without stint.

(from the Bi-centennial History of Albany County)

His monument, which cost $9,000 when it was commissioned, was the work of William Manson.  The Scottish-born Manson not only created several noteworthy monuments for the Cemetery (including the eagle-topped column honoring Colonel Mills), but also worked on sculpted elements for the interiors at the New York State Capitol and Court of Appeals.

The capstone of the Appleton monument was said to be the largest single piece of granite used for a monument at the time and reportedly weighed over twenty tons.

The Appleton lot stands along a low path at the northwest corner of the South Ridge and is just across from a series of impressive hillside vaults, including the Egytian-inspired Brinckerhoff-Pumpelly crypt

In the past, a small set of steps just behind this lot led down to the Moordanaers Kill and Tawasentha Lake, a small ornamental pond which has since been drained.

(While the lot is badly overgrown in the above photo, it had been mowed and cleared by my next visit.)

 View of the Appleton lot from the early 1890s.

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