These Sacred Grounds- Celebrating 150 Years of St. Agnes Cemetery; a new hardcover book by Kelly Grimaldi
These Sacred Grounds: 150 Years of St. Agnes Cemetery was released at a late summer cocktail party in 2017 as part of Historic St. Agnes Cemetery’s 150th Anniversary Celebration. The event attracted guests from as far away as Arizona and Wyoming, and launched hundreds of book sales to date from across the nation!
This book takes the reader on a journey from the Victorian era into modernity and brings to life captains of industry, war veterans, artists, a famous movie star, politicians, tragic deaths and other stories of those buried within the Cemetery. The wealthiest citizens gave us much to admire with their stately burial lots but the ordinary citizens and the poor played an important part in the shaping of history and their modest graves tell their own story. Sometimes these stories are sad stories of high infant mortality; tragic workplace accidents; ravaging infectious diseases; and some are stories of triumph, inspiration, perseverance and success. Today each memorial provides us with a lesson in art and in history that we explore within the book.
The gorgeous 160 page full color hardcover coffee table book is available for purchase at many fine bookstores throughout New York’s Capital Region, on Amazon, or by contacting the author and historian for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries, Kelly Grimaldi at 518-350-7679 or via email at [email protected]. If you contact Kelly, you can even arrange to have your book signed by the author!
These books make wonderful presents!
The Honorable John (Jack) McEneny, a well-known public figure and local historian, contributed a feature story for the book. The descendants of prominent families, Dr. Kathleen Quinn, Vincent J. Forte, Jr., and Dr. Joseph Meany also wrote very insightful pieces about their ancestors.
Fine art photography rich in color and detail is featured on nearly every page of the book; highlighting the history, art and landscape of beautifully sculptured memorials large and small, stained glass, and neo-classical to contemporary architecture memorializing people resting in these sacred grounds. Photography by Mick Hales, Jennifer Mele, Chuck Miller, Jeannie Keefe, along with community members who participated in the St. Agnes Photography Contest, 2009-2013, provide a splendid pictorial narrative.
Proceeds from the book directly benefit the cemetery and help ensure St. Agnes Cemetery will remain well kept and safe for future generations.
To order book(s), click here to download our book order form.
Excerpt from an article in The Evangelist by Editor Kate Blain:
“”These Sacred Grounds” is less a book about St. Agnes Cemetery itself than a collection of biographies of those laid to rest there. Some were famous: Martin Glynn, New York’s first Irish Catholic governor; Michael Nolan, who in 1878 became the first Catholic mayor of Albany; John Heenan, the first American to win a heavyweight championship belt; actor and director Robert Vignola; and actress Mary Nash, best known for a co-starring role in the 1937 film “Heidi.”
Businessman Anthony Brady became one of the wealthiest men in the world in the late 1800s. “He was one of the first businessmen to capitalize on the invention of electricity, having locked in a contract in 1881 to light the streets of Albany,” Ms. Grimaldi writes in the book.
Brady’s name may also be familiar because he founded the Brady Maternity Hospital in Albany, now home to the Pastoral Center where diocesan offices are located.
When he died in 1913, he was entombed at St. Agnes Cemetery in a massive, Greek Parthenon-style mausoleum that’s worth about $4 million today.
But Ms. Grimaldi is drawn more to the stories of people whose lives and deaths may have faded into history were they not memorialized at St. Agnes. In addition to Albany’s prominent citizens, she said, “the poor and voiceless, the marginalized, are buried here.”
A tragic example is that of the orphans of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Albany. When 14 girls from the school went into Fernwood Pond on a hot summer day in 1903, watched over by Sisters of Charity, several girls fell off a raft into a 17-foot-deep part of the pond. None could swim and rescue efforts failed.
Sixteen-year-old Mary Breen, 19-year-old Grace Burns and 20-year-old Mary O’Brien drowned. They lay in unmarked graves for 107 years before an anonymous donor paid for a headstone. In 2010, then-Bishop Howard J. Hubbard led a ceremony to bless the newly-installed stone.”
Read an article that The Times Union published about the 150th Anniversary and book release.