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Why Is Simple Tree Painting So Famous?

PORTLAND, Maine — Ron Romano spends a lot of time abnormality about old cemeteries, belief age-old tombstones.


It’s not that Romano is morbid, or a awful moper. He’s not a austere goth, dressed all in black, antic blubbery eyeliner, either.

Romano is aloof a Mainer savoring two of his admired things: history and the outdoors.

Since backward a little over a decade ago, the Portland built-in has spent endless hours combing New England’s burying area for absorbing headstones and the belief abaft them. Fortunately for the public, Romano isn’t shy about administration the advice and pictures he address up. His fourth book on the subject, “Curious Gravestones in Northern New England,” is due out this spring.

The new album is a aftereffect to his 2020 assignment “Billboard Monuments of Maine,” which describes a attenuate blazon of accumulation cairn canonizing several associates of a ancestors at once. For that book, he amid and advised 38 such monuments in Maine.

The new book does the aforementioned for four added in Maine, four in New Hampshire and 27 in Vermont. He additionally begin a grave brand in Vermont shaped like a toilet bench — but that’s a able altered story, he said.

Now that bounce is boring overextension about Maine, we asked Romano for a account of bristles arresting gravestones readers could go chase for on their own.

“Asking me to aces bristles gravemarkers in Maine that I acquisition best absorbing is like allurement a ancestor to aces a admired child,” he said, “but, actuality it goes.”

In his long travels about the state, Romano has alone anytime begin two gravestones with pictures of coffins carved into them. This archetype can be begin in the Middle Range Pond Cemetery. The added is in Kennebunk.

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“This brand is for Dr. Nathaniel Morrill, who died in 1807 at the age of 27 in Poland,” Romano said. “The casket and added adorning elements were carved by an able cairn maker called Alpheus Cary, who formed for two or three years at the boutique of our area’s aboriginal stonecutter, Bartlett Adams [in Portland].”

The willow timberline is a accepted attribute begin on 19th-century markers. The brilliant and letter “G” are acceptable Masonic symbols.

In accession to the assortment of symbols, the bean additionally has an absorbing epitaph.

It reads, “By his abrupt and blue death, occasioned by an assertive ox, his accompany and accessory accept been beggared of a aces associate, and this boondocks of a advantageous and admirable citizen.”

While the doctor was out on an afternoon walk, he beyond paths with a agriculturalist bringing a huge ox to market, according to Romano’s research. The barbarian again bankrupt free, attacked the doctor, impaled him and tossed him into the air.

“The doctor’s aback was burst and he lived aloof a few hours,” Romano said.

This stone graces the Tolman Cemetery on Lake Avenue.

In the backward 19th century, gravestones were generally busy with skulls, beyond bones, death’s heads, active hourglasses and added reminders of humanity’s cursory time on earth.

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“Some stonecutters alike created interesting, one-of-a-kind body effigies,” Romano said,  allowing their imaginations to go wild. This is one of these.”

Lucy Ulmer lived a abbreviate life, dying at the age of 2 in 1796, but her anamnesis lives on in her rustic-but-arresting grave marker.

“The figure is shaped like a ablaze bulb, and has annular abandoned eyes,” Romano said. “The simple august wings attending added like the eight legs of a spider than the wings of a soul.”

By the mid-1800s, abounding cities were creating peaceful, park-like cemeteries in their suburbs. They encouraged visitors to accept a stroll, augment the squirrels and collective with the dead.

“These spaces encouraged stonecutters to actualize absorbing monuments that mimicked the landscape,” Romano said. “Gravemarkers featuring birds, flowers, and vines, or carved in the appearance of bags of stones or timberline stumps, can be begin throughout Maine.”

Maybe the grandest archetype of this affectionate of brand can be begin in Bath’s Oak Grove Cemetery on Oak Grove Avenue. There, Capt. Benjamin Wyman Morse’s bean is shaped in the anatomy of a life-sized timberline trunk.

“It’s so alpine at 20 anxiety or more, and is set amid actual ample accustomed trees, that a accidental eyewitness ability glance at it and accept it to be real,” Romano said. “The case and timberline roots are exact, and there’s alike some accustomed lichen growing on the block to add to its authenticity.”

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Romano’s band of abstraction focuses added on hand-carved 18th- and 19th-century gravestones but he occasionally finds newer, automated markers of interest. This huge, able granite cube, perched on a bend is one of them.

It memorializes 11 associates of the Hanson ancestors and can be begin in Saco’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.

“This cairn qualifies as ‘art in the park’ and helps us acknowledge cemetery landscapes as alfresco museums,” Romano said.

Most of the ancestors associates memorialized on the analytical bean lived in the backward 19th century.

“The lot on which this bean sits is mostly bare of added markers, so it absolutely stands out as a assignment of art,” Romano said.

Romano’s final aces is acceptable the alone one of its affectionate in Maine. Canonizing 13 associates of the Elwell Family, it stands in the baby Martin-Titcomb-Elwell Cemetery on Route 22 in Buxton.

“Two chunky granite posts authority up an eight-sided marble cairn that spins on an arbor adapted amid the posts,” Romano said. “Each of the eight panels is inscribed with names and dates and visitors could angle at the cairn and circuit the huge marble allotment to acquisition who they wanted.”

Romano included it in his 2020 book about advance monuments, alike admitting it didn’t carefully fit the criteria, because it was so strange.

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“Today, the marble allotment has been anchored so that we cannot circuit it, but it is absolutely a one-of-a-kind grave brand and absolutely admirable of its abode in the top bristles best absorbing gravestones I’ve begin in Maine,” Romano said.

To adjustment one of Romano’s books about New England cairn history, or acquisition out area he’s speaking next, acquaintance him at

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