Wooden Sculptures in Glenwood Cemetery

Wooden Sculptures in Glenwood Cemetery

After a local ordinance was passed in 1852 barring the creation of new cemeteries in many parts of the city at that time, Glenwood Cemetery was founded in what was then considered a “rural” area.  Located at 2219 Lincoln Road (MAP) in northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood, Glenwood Cemetery is a private, secular cemetery that is home to enough elaborate Victorian and Art Nouveau funerary monuments to make almost any taphophile satisfied.  But more recently, it has also become home to some ornately carved wooden sculptures that have started to develop into a minor tourist attraction in their own right.

There is actually a set of four wooden sculptures located behind the cemetery’s Romanesque Revival mortuary chapel, which is itself an attraction and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The largest sculpture is 30 feet tall and depicts a large dragon’s arm catching a smaller dragon.  Right next to the dragon is a piece depicting a sabertooth tiger, with woodland animals at its feet.  The remaining two are of angels. The sculptures were inspired by passages in the Bible from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 20:1-3, 7, which reads, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon–that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan–and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. .. When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. (New Living Translation)”

According to the superintendent of the cemetery, the statues were carved by Dayton Scoggins, a world renowned chainsaw sculptor artist, in lieu of simply removing some of the cemetery’s old-growth trees that were either dying or heavily damaged in storms.  The decision to utilize the dying trees and to make something out of the wood ironically gave the dead trees in the cemetery “a new life.”

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[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

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