My aunt Vera spent her later years in Burlington, Vermont with her son, Bob and daughter-in-law, Elaine. When he drove by Barre, Vermont on the way to Burlington, my aunt would declare as she pointed with crooked finger, “That’s the place where the Italians are.”

Aunt Vera, Age 90

Aunt Vera, 90th Birthday

Thinking she might be a bit confused, Bob thought she was speaking of Bari, in southern Italy. But no, she was speaking of the Italians, the famous monument carvers of Barre, VT who settled in the area so many years ago. (There is also Wendy Richardson’s sad story of the stone carvers)

Barre, the self-proclaimed “Granite Center of the World,” was established with the discovery of vast granite deposits at Millstone Hill in the early 1800’s. The granite industry and the city saw a boom with the arrival of the railroad. As the fame of this vast deposit of granite grew and work was readily available, large numbers of people migrated to Barre from Italy, Scotland, Spain, and a number of other countries. By the turn of the century, Barre was noted as the state’s most diverse municipality.Barry vt cemetery

The Italian immigrants in particular, brought their skills of stone carving, honed in the years even preceding Michelangelo.

Diane and I decided to visit. We were unprepared for the astonishing tombstones in the Hope Cemetery. Opened in 1896, this graveyard is an art gallery, celebrating life in the midst of death with some of the most compelling and beautiful stone art work that we have seen, anywhere.

Take a trip this remarkable repository of art.

© 2016