at 5668 Poplar Ave, Memphis, 38119 United States
Memorial Park’s outstanding feature is its beauty and naturally rolling terrain. Constructed in the 1930s by E.C. Hinds
Memorial Park’s outstanding feature is its beauty and naturally rolling terrain. Constructed in the 1930s by E.C. Hinds, an entrepreneur, several features were added to the landscape to enhance its beauty. Just inside the entrance is a gracefully curved reflecting pool and a three-tiered fountain. As you drive to the east of the fountain, you will cross the stone bridges and come across the first of several fascinating constructions by Mexican artist, Dionicio Rodriguez. These works include Annie Laurie’s Wishing Chair and Rose Garden, The Wishing Well and the Fountain of Youth. The high point of Rodriguez’s work is the Crystal Shrine Grotto, which Mr. Hinds described as the only man-made crystal cave in the world. E. C. Hinds – A Man of Vision E.Clovis Hinds was a smart entrepreneur who wanted Memphis to have a place of beauty and peace, where people could visit and feel inspired and uplifted. After a visit to Forest Lawn, the country’s first “memorial park”, a cemetery in which no upright markers or monuments would be allowed, Hinds was inspired to create his own no-sectarian cemetery, adorned with works of art representing legendary and Judeo-Christian themes. He was attracted to the idea of “democracy in death,” where there were no monuments to human wealth or pride, no ‘spooky tombstones’, but only the glory of nature and art. After returning to Memphis, Hinds sold his Life Insurance business and bought the first 54 acres of land that would become Memphis Memorial Park. Right away Hinds began to advertise Memorial Park, ‘the cemetery beautiful’. It would be, he said, “a place of lakes and fountains, broad driveways, spacious lawns, beautiful shrubbery, trees and flowers”. It was 5 miles east of the city. The first ads offered a family group of six grave plots for $150. An Enduring Legacy A stunning landscape was taking shape at Memorial Park. No one who knew him could have been surprised at the magnitude of Hinds’ plan. He was a vibrant man, full of ideas and enthusiasm. He was already 56 years old when he established Memorial Park. He had a successful life insurance business, but at an age when other men might be considering retirement, Hinds was motivated to create a new business venture. As Hinds worked to establish and nurture his new cemetery, legal battles erupted over its location. Nearby property owners filed lawsuits, charging that the cemetery would lower their property values and pollute their wells. But Hinds persevered and eventually those suits were won or dismissed. By 1935 Memorial Park was well established and Hinds was building upon a tradition of making the cemetery more than just a burial place. In the 19th century, when there were few if any public parks, cemeteries were used as places for quiet family recreation. Owners encouraged families to take walks and have picnics in their cemeteries. In some, the trees and plants were labeled, as in education botanical gardens. The cemetery was a place to visit not only in the times of bereavement, but also to experience beauty and spiritual uplift. E.C. Hinds was also very fond of children and one of his purposes in enhancing Memorial Park with Dionicio Rodriguez’ sculptures were to make it a place of enjoyment where children could learn and be delighted, and not be afraid.
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