This burial shelter in Alabama is known for its unusual size, architecture
Along Alabama Highway 5 near Thomasville, a gate between two brick columns guards one of Alabama’s historic cemeteries. Airmount Cemetery, established circa 1840, is home to Airmount Grave Shelter, an unusual addition to the National Register of Historic Places.
The burial shelter, added to the Register in 2000, was built in 1853. Tomb shelters, also called funeral homes, are not marble mausoleums or granite tombs. They are simple structures, often made of wood, although a few are built of brick or stone. They most often have gabled roofs to protect burials from the elements. Typically, these are small structures covering a single grave, or sometimes the graves of a man and a woman, or a mother and her child. Click here to learn more about burial shelters in Alabama.
The Airmount shelter is larger than most, covering six graves of the family of John Hope, who built the structure. The shelter has a brick facade and a gable roof, with a domed ceiling inside.
An article on RuralSWAlabama.org says, “The unusual flared eaves and vaulted interior ceiling, or ‘compass,’ of this burial shelter can be traced to the church yards on the east coast of Delaware and Virginia. It is believed to be the only such burial shelter in Alabama.
The shelter contains the graves of the following people:
- Archibald H. Hope, born May 20, 1823 and died September 26, 1850.
- Margaret Hope, born November 20, 1797 and died in May 1851.
- Jane A. Hope, born February 9, 1813 and died November 22, 1852.
- John Allison Hope, born October 3, 1855 and died October 25, 1856.
- John Hope, born October 3, 1791 and died April 6, 1868.
- Sarah Jane Powell Hope, born July 7, 1829 and died July 7, 1885. “
In 2009, Hope Family Properties donated this burial shelter and cemetery to the Clarke County Historical Society, according to the RuralSWAlabama article.
The cemetery gate is located on the left side of Hwy 5, five miles north of the intersection with Alabama Hwy 43. RuralSWalabama.org lists GPS coordinates as 31.969000, -87.669476.