Alongside Alabama Highway 5 near Thomasville, a gate between two brick columns guards one of Alabama’s historical cemeteries. Airmount Cemetery, established circa-1840s, is home to Airmount Grave Shelter, an unusual addition to the National Register of Historic Places.
The grave shelter, added to the Register in 2000, was built in 1853. Grave shelters, also called grave houses, are not marble mausoleums or granite tombs. They are simple structures, often made of wood, although a few are constructed of brick or stone. They most often have gabled roofs to protect the gravesites from the elements. Typically, they are small structures covering a single grave, or sometimes graves of man and wife, or a mother and child. Click here to read more about grave 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 façade and gabled roof, with a domed ceiling inside.
An article on RuralSWAlabama.org says, “The unusual splayed eaves and vaulted, or “compass” interior ceiling, of this grave shelter can be traced to Eastern Seaboard church yards in Delaware and Virginia. This is believed to be the only grave shelter of its type in Alabama.”
The shelter contains the graves of the following individuals:
- Archibald H. Hope, born May 20, 1823 and died September 26, 1850.
- Margaret Hope, born Nov 20, 1797 and died 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 deeded this grave shelter and cemetery to the Clarke County Historical Society, the RuralSWAlabama article said.
The cemetery gate is located on the left side of Highway 5, five miles north of the intersection with Alabama Highway 43. RuralSWalabama.org lists GPS coordinates as 31.969000, -87.669476.