Gothic Picnic in Congressional Cemetery
An uncannily sunny day greeted a throng of Victorian and Gothic revelers at the 5th annual Gothic Victorian Congressional Cemetery Picnic. The event was free, with an optional donation to the Congressional Cemetery foundation to raise funds for the restoration of the cemetery's many monuments in need of repair. The crowd was diverse in age and in dress, landing at different points on the Victorian-Gothic-Steampunk continuum. I was particularly impressed with a few outfits which looked as intricate as any opera house costume.
A potluck was shared with the group, who also took pleasure in a guided tour of the cemetery's best in show. Carrie Hoover, a local archivist for the FEMA library, wrote her MA thesis on the Congressional Cemetery, and she delighted my picnic guests (fiance and puppy) with a private tour of the Cemetery's highlights. Favorites included famed Civil War photographer (and arguably the first photojournalist), Matthew Brady's grave, several gravestones dedicated to Gay Vietnam War Vets, and an obelisk/statue memorializing the DC armory explosion which killed a few dozen women working to load munitions during the Civil War. Another stand-out tour stop is the Totem Pole given to the district as a healing gift post 9-11, the design of the Lummi Nation Tribe from Washington State includes totems of "liberty" and "freedom." In 1997, The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the cemetery one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the US noting, like most early cemeteries, the Congressional did not have a perpetual care plan, although is now under the guidance of non-profit Association for the Preservation of the Historic Congressional Cemetery. Founded in 1807 and the first de-facto cemetery in the US, Congressional Cemetery is home to beautiful grounds and many intriguing graves, and is open to the public during daylight hours for self-guided tours. Make sure to keep any eye out for cell phone tour audio stops at notable gravesites.
[View all photos from this event at here]
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