The entrance to Kenmore Park/Memorial Park on Washington Avenue. The obelisk itself is the grave of Mary Washington, George Washington’s mother; right behind it is the Gordon Family Cemetery. Although George’s father died when he was just 11 years old, his mother saw him ascend the presidency. She died in 1789.
Looking east from the park’s entrance, you can see First Christian Church, on the intersection of Washington Avenue and Pitt Street.
Washington Avenue looking south.
Gordon Family Cemetery. The Gordons lived at Kenmore; the gravestones date from 1826 to 1872.
If you were a Mary Washington College student returning from a party downtown in the 1990’s, you could pass the cemetery on your way back to campus at night. I saw a group of high school kids inside the cemetery one night; they scattered in a panic when they realized I’d noticed them. (To my knowledge, no Mary Wash kids were involved in shenanigans like that here.) I believe it is illegal to enter a cemetery like this at night … and I have it on good authority that Southern cops take such an offense very, very seriously.
Behind the cemetery is Meditation Rock. This was an occasional destination for college students out for a walk. Shortly after I arrived at Mary Washington in 1990 from New York, a patient group of upperclassmen “adopted” me and kindly resolved to keep me out of trouble. (One of them is still my “big brother” today.) This is one of the first places they showed me when they gave me a tour of the town.
Am I a weird guy if I suggest that images of Meditation Rock can have Freudian undercurrents? Is that wrong? There is a whole “Picnic at Hanging Rock” vibe here. (The sad thing is, I was actually studying Freud at about the time I first saw it, and it never occurred to me then.) The juxtaposition with the nearby images associated with death and godliness is aesthetically striking.
The Kenmore Apartments are still across Kenmore Avenue on the other side of the park.