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Mt. Moriah Cemetery (Philadelphia) Abandoned America Photography Workshop

Posted: 16th January 2010

Location: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia PA
Date/Time: April 6, 2014 3:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Cost: $75/ea.

The Site: Mount Moriah Cemetery, modeled after the New Burying Ground in New Haven, Connecticut; the Pere Lechaise Cemetery outside Paris; and Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia is arguably Pennsylvania's "Grande Dame" of the 19th Century rural cemetery movement. Seated in both Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, this bucolic hallowed ground was once herald as the largest privately owned, non-sectarian cemetery in Pennsylvania. It was chartered by the State Legislature on March 26, 1855 with an initial purchase of 54 acres, its rolling hills eventually expanded to a reported 380 acres.

Nestled in the recesses of the southwestern edge of the Philadelphia county line and originally stretching across what is now Cobbs Creek Parkway, Mount Moriah Cemetery is unique in that it has two national cemeteries contained within. Mount Moriah's original lodge and gateway, often referred to as the Old Gatehouse was designed by Stephan Decatur Button (1813 - 1897) in the Norman castellated style. The arched brownstone carriageway once had twin towers overlooking the expansive property. The structure is currently in disrepair due to a fire.

One hundred and fifty six years after its incorporation, the Mount Moriah Cemetery ceased operations. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, originally formed in the late 1990’s, restructured and set its sight on preserving the cemetery. While it is estimated that their efforts have cleared 25% of the brush in the enormous cemetery, the remaining portion is overgrown, a continually changing landscape shaped by the Friends' war against the weeds. They will join us to answer questions and tell us about some of the amazing hidden spaces on the grounds while we photograph from afternoon to early evening. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Friends, who will use it in their ongoing effort to make Mt. Moriah a safe and accessible place for people to visit their ancestors' grave sites.

The Workshop: During the workshop I will be on hand to help you get better shots - including a basic introduction to infrared photography (this is a perfect environment for it!) and 360 degree panoramas. You will have four hours to explore the cemetery - there will be a tour and a photography demo lesson, but you are not required to attend them. I know some of you are just taking the tour to see the location, and if that's the case I'll stay out of your way and let you do your thing, but I strongly recommend either staying with the group or working in pairs. Learning to use a tripod, what file format to shoot in, how to compose shots better, what ISO, F-Stop, and shutter speed affect, and how to do things like exposure bracketing are very important to your results. Don't feel afraid to ask me even questions that may seem silly to you. I want you to leave with pictures you're proud of. I've been doing this for a while and want you to learn from my mistakes and successes.

Rules/Safety: You need to be very aware of your safety. I encourage you to always pay attention to your surroundings. It is easy to twist an ankle or trip in some areas of the cemetery, and there are many ticks lurking in the underbrush so we recommend pants and a long sleeved shirt. As mentioned above, while we will not mandate you stay with the group, we highly encourage you to at the least partner with other photographers. The cemetery is easy to get lost in! A representative from the Friends of Mt. Moriah will be on hand and following their directions is critical. Showing proper respect for the cemetery is also expected. If you do not you may be asked to leave the site. You will be asked to sign a waiver before you enter acknowledging that you are entering a potentially unsafe environment and that you will not hold either the owners or myself liable for any harm that may befall you or your equipment. Obviously the first priority on the trip, even before taking great pictures, is making sure that you are safe - but you will need to be the one looking out for that.

What to bring:
- a bottle of water
- sturdy boots that protect your feet
- your tripod
- a fully charged cell phone
- your camera manual if you're unsure how to change settings. I can help you find the information you need in the manual but most cameras have their own ways of accessing features and changing settings and that makes things a lot easier.
- It's not necessary but a remote shutter switch is a nice thing to have and you can get a cheap one on Amazon for about $6 depending on your camera.

Any questions? Send me a note at admin@abandonedamerica.org - if the PayPal link is immediately below this there are still open spots.

By signing up you agree to the following terms: Please make sure you check the email associated with your Paypal account for confirmation/updates! Your Paypal receipt is your confirmation, an email will follow with further details no less than a week prior to the event. You will need to sign a waiver to participate in this event, a sample of which can be found here. By signing up for this workshop you agree not to use information attained before or during the workshop to illegally trespass or set up alternate workshops/events.

REFUND POLICY: If you are unable to attend an event and notify me at admin@abandonedamerica.org more than 30 days prior to the event, you will be issued a full refund minus a $40 processing fee. Because of the extremely limited tour spots, if it is within 30 days of the event there are NO REFUNDS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES except in case of workshop cancellation by Abandoned America. You may give or sell a paid spot in the workshop to someone else if you are unable to attend but admission may not be transferred to another event. There is always a possibility that the workshop may need to be moved to a different date based on severe inclement weather, safety concerns, or site manager's limitations. If this is the case notification will be given immediately and a refund will be offered if attendee is unable to make the alternate date. We cannot be held liable for travel, rental, or other costs incurred by attendee in the event of workshop cancellation. We do make every effort to ensure all events run on schedule. All sales are final.

Any questions? Send me a note at admin@abandonedamerica.org - if the PayPal link is immediately below this there are still open spots.

WORKSHOP HAS ENDED. Please visit this page for night workshop information.


Photo comment By wilma wyant: thank you for reviving the cemetery there wish I was young and healthy to come and dig some wild stuff out. I know that some of my family was in the war. wilma wyant
Photo comment By melanie: I''ve been a fan for a while, following and sharing your work. I can't do the workshop, unfortunately, but wanted to Sk your opinion on cameras. I'm sure yiu've asked plenty of times, so I apologize for asking you to repeat yourself. Currently I own a Kodak point-and-shoot that does the basics. I have gotten some good shots with it but I would like to graduate to something a little more serious. What are your recommendations? Also, budget is an issue. :)
Photo comment By Marcia Field: Would love to know whether my relatives Samuel Crawford Smith (d 1916)and his wife, Clarinda Boydston Smith (d.1903)have stones here. The condition is pathetic!!!
Photo comment By Al Snyder: How do I find a grave location?
Photo comment By Jude T. Walsh: The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery should 1. Contact the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to take ownership and control of this cemetery. 2. On Decorations Day (Memorial Day) the Friends should gather as many groups as possible to clean up the cemetery. (Boy Scouts, V.F.W., American Legion, Marine Corps League, etc) 3. The Friends of Mount Moriah Society should contact the Historical Organizations - National Geographic, Pennsylvania Historical, Philadelphia Historical, Smithsonian, to photograph every grave marker.
Photo comment By Jude T. Walsh: Who has a written record of who is buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery?
Photo comment By Daniel: I recall that either earlier this year or last year, that some PA school utilized goats/sheep to naturally clear some over-vegetated areas. I wonder if a similar solution could be tried at the cemetery to assist in keeping the area trim. No joke.
Photo comment By Haunt Moint Moriah: The Friends of Mount moriah have already spoken with just about every political representative imaginable. As of now, the city of Phila have formed and incorporated an association to take receivership of the property. It's been told it could happen any day now but unfortunately because Mount moriah does not generate any revenue no one is jumping thru hoops for us, we can only bug them while we wait (which believe me, we do). As far as clean ups, we do a mandatory monthly cleanup where we ask volunteers to join us. We also book other days for groups and organizations such as the National Guard, UofPenn, Drexel, Villanova, Comcast, and the list goes on. Boys Scouts are just a tad young for these type conditions and prefer 18 or older with a signed waiver. As far as historical organizations we are in contact with the Preservation Alliance, Historical Commision, and many more. As of right now we have our records temporarily stored in the Philadelphia Archives where we will be sorting out over a 150 years worth of records, digitalizing them and transcribing the, into a data base. Honestly, there's not much we can say we havent tried, are doing or are planning to do in the future. We have a variety of kinds of people on the board who all bring their own kind if knowledge, skills and connections. We are only really 3 years old and only within the last year have we actually seen contributions of a substantial sum, prior to this, the expenses were coming out of a few board member's pockets who honestly couldnt afford it but sacrificed to do so, one being myself. We have a small number of folks who come out 2-4 days a week to work on the grounds. I myself live here and am out everyday to do security rounds as well as work on the grounds. In these past 3 years, a very small amount of people with practically no money have done some big things here and it's really starting to show. For more info google Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery or visit us on Facebook. I would post the links but the site wont allow me, sorry.
Photo comment By Ellie Landis: Mygreat great grandparents, William and Ann Conner Crothers are buried in Mt. Moriah. They died in 1902 and 1897. Is there anyway to get any information on them?
Photo comment By susie: your website is awesome and mostly very interesting. just wondering if you could help me locate my great grandfather grave. i am at a dead end, can't locate him at all. thanks
Photo comment By Kathleen Funk: My grand mom is buried there. 1962. We want to come out and see if we can find her grave.
Photo comment By Linda b: I am at a lost for words at the vandalism and destruction that goes on in this cemetery! The state needs to step in and protect this historical site.
Photo comment By Marylou: I was raised across the street at 6150 kingsessing.so sad. so very sad to see
Photo comment By charlotte: the beauty of your photos moves me to tears they are so beautiful. I have relatives buried there near Betsy Ross's old tomb. Iron removed for World War II effort (Mount Mariah)Could find them in a heartbeat if I could get near them. God Bless you for your effort.
Photo comment By Mary Anne Killian: I am in So. Phila. I know no one in the cementary, but would like to volunteer for clean up. Only problem is I have no care, or way to get there.
Photo comment By Rita: I grew up at 60th and Kingsessing Avenue, we used to sled in the cemetary. We didn't vandalize the cem, just enjoyed the hills in the snow. It's a disgrace what's happened there, like so many others in Philadelphia.
Photo comment By Ms.Christine Berry: My son is buried there in 2010 wow!!!!I was outrage to find out the closing.went to visit the gravesite it was deployable out there we did clean-up around his grave.yes I'm distruck ,heart-breaken ,sad for Lenwood Jones who decieve me knowing what was goin on I resent him for that .what he fail to realize he will have his day as well. I will love to what ever I can to help my it Beautiful Again I just need transportation to come out to help clean - up.two days a week please let me know .My GOD Bless us all who making there self available Thank-you for your continuous support!!!!

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