Current view of the Lanier Mansion; Historic view of the Michigan Road climbing the bluffs north of Madison.
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Madison, Indiana

Springdale Cemetery

George Grey Bernard’s “Let There Be Light”

George Grey Bernard’s “Let There Be Light”
Courtesy of Bradley Miller

On Madison’s northwest side, West Fifth Street terminates at Springdale Cemetery, the city’s earliest still-active cemetery. Madison residents used the Old Third Street Cemetery located on the corner of Third and Vine Streets until abandoning the site in 1839 for the newly organized Springdale Cemetery. Francis “Fanny” Sullivan, the 15 -year old daughter of prominent Madisonian Judge Jeremiah Sullivan, was the first burial in the new municipal cemetery. When the Daughters of the American Revolution converted the Old Third Street Cemetery into John Paul Park in 1904, the remaining gravestones were relocated to Springdale and are now clustered together in the cemetery’s Old Public Grounds section. Springdale Cemetery is also the resting place of numerous Civil War veterans, members of Madison’s early 20th century Jewish community, and African Americans who lived in the Georgetown neighborhood.

Springdale Cemetery’s planned landscape reflects the basic tenets of the Rural Cemetery model popularized by Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. Springdale includes terraced, European-style family plots leading up Hanging Rock Hill and several stone-lined drainage ditches dating to the mid-1800s. Designed by Frederick Wallick, the 1916 Gothic Revival Chapel is dressed stone with imitation quoins, corner buttresses, stained glass windows, and crockets along the front gable.

One notable monument is the large, white, Italian marble statue depicting a female figure with arms stretched upward that George Grey Barnard sculpted. The artist’s parents moved to Madison in 1882 when his father, Dr. Joseph Barnard, accepted the position of minister at the Madison Second Presbyterian Church. After his parents died, the sculptor placed the statue he titled “Let There Be Light” beside their graves as a memorial. An active artist from the 1880s until his death in 1938, Barnard earned fame for his realistic depictions of the human form and for designing the architectural nucleus of The Cloisters Medieval Art Museum in New York City.

Springdale Cemetery contributes to the historic significance of the Madison Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

Plan your visit

Springdale Cemetery is located at 600 E. Fifth Street. Click here for the Madison Historic District National Historic Landmark file: text. The cemetery is managed by the Springdale Cemetery Association and is open to the public from dawn until dusk. For more information, call 812-265-3915.

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