Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Sunday’s Cemetery 20

July 5, 2015 / by davidwalton

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Standing next to the tomb of Herbert Buckingham Khaury, aka Tiny Tim who is best remembered for his ukulele playing and rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” He lived in Minnesota during the final years of his life.

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Exterior view of Lakewood Memorial Chapel designed by Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones. The interior is done in a Byzantine mosaic design and features a Skinner pipe organ. It’s also listed on the National Register or Historic Places.

Cemeteries. Every city has one. They are mysterious, historic, haunting and, to me, fascinating. I developed a fondness for cemeteries as a boy.

Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.

Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.

My travels take me to all over the South and Midwest — and sometimes further North — so I have decided to start documenting my cemetery visits with a series of photos in a new Sunday feature.

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Franklin Mars, creator of the Mars and Milky Way candy bars, is buried in his family’s Gothic-style mausoleum.

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My friend Marilyn poses at the gravesite of Hubert Humphrey, who served as Vice President under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Humphrey attended the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!), was mayor of Minneapolis and served for three terms in the U.S. Senate.

This week’s cemetery is Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN. It was founded in 1871 and is located on the city’s southern edge between Lakes Calhoun and Harriet. Visitors used to travel to Lakewood by horse and buggy and later by streetcar from downtown Minneapolis for the bargain price of a nickel!

The cemetery features three popular styles of monuments — Classical Revival, Egyptian Revival and Medieval Revival — with many of the monuments designed between 1850 and 1930 by prominent architects and sculptors.

In its heyday, Lakewood once maintained six enormous greenhouses, each larger than a football field! Today, it still has one of the largest cemetery greenhouse operations in the U.S., and it features a number of plant species found nowhere else in Minnesota. Groundskeepers plant more than 95,000 flowers each season.

Lakewood Cemetery is a must see for anyone visiting the Twin Cities. And may I suggest hotel accommodations? I’m somewhat partial to the artsy luxury hotel Le Meridien Chambers in Central Minneapolis where I typically stay. However, on this particular visit I decided to try someplace different — The Commons Hotel on the University of Minnesota campus — and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Commons, a boutique hotel in Minneapolis, features a hip decor complete with fire pits and an out-of-this world restaurant-bar The Beacon Public House which uses only locally-grown products in its menu offerings.

The Commons, a boutique hotel in Minneapolis, features a hip decor complete with fire pits and an out-of-this world restaurant-bar, The Beacon Public House which uses locally-grown products in its menu offerings.

The hotel is quite inviting with its retro-chic rooms full of amenities — and yes, there’s even free parking! The property is within walking distance to many stores and restaurants. And when I wasn’t in the mood for driving, I’d hop on the Green Line (a station is located directly in front of the hotel) which took me anyplace of my choosing in the Twin Cities. The hotel with its inviting feel and welcoming staff definitely won me over. With that said, it can expect another visit from me in the near future.

Until next time….

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