River stage: 32.33 ft. Falling
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Solemn, beautiful, sublime, and patrioticPosted Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at 9:04 PM
"The magnificent pagoda, classical in its lines, beautiful in the absense of jarring adornment, was the loving tribute of the citizenship, made possible by the loyal women of Cape Girardeau who compose the Cemetery Association."
That's how the Daily Republican newspaper described the concrete pagoda that was erected in 1917 to shelter the graves of Louis Lorimier and his wife Charlotte.
During the June 1912 centennial celebration of Lorimier's burial, the Nancy Hunter chapter of the DAR had discussed erecting a concrete structure over the graves to help protect them from further deterioration. Newspaper clippings, however, indicate that the pagoda wasn't built until five years later.
The ladies of the Cemetery Association announced their plans to build a pagoda in November 1916. During the next several months, the group held weekly card games to raise money for the project, finally reaching a point in May where they could proceed with construction. The Weekly Tribune newspaper reported on May 25, 1917:
I wasn't able to find any newspaper articles revealing the project cost or the contractor that won the bid. Nevertheless, by August, the pagoda was completed and a large dedication ceremony was planned.
The Daily Republican announced on Aug. 4:
Both newspapers labeled the event as an "impressive ceremony." The Daily Republican described it as a "solemn occasion, beautiful in its simplicity, sublime in its meaning and patriotic in its consummation." (Can you imagine a modern-day newspaper publishing a sentence like that?)
Despite the pagoda, the sandstone markers at the Lorimier graves continued to fall apart. The pagoda itself was showing signs of deterioration by 1940, prompting the Southeast Missourian to publish a story headlined "Tomb of city's founder is crumbling." The story warned that "unless something is done soon the shrine will be a shambles."
In 1952, the 150th anniversary of Lorimier's death, the pagoda was repaired and new grave markers were installed. Another dedication ceremony was held in which lineal descendants of Lorimier (Robert and Donald Jueneman) placed wreaths on the graves.
The original epitaphs for Louis and Charlotte, featuring both English and Latin inscriptions, were preserved in the newly installed granite markers.
Louis Lorimier's marker reads:
Charlotte's marker says:
The Latin epitaph for Louis is fairly straightforward, but I have no idea what Charlotte's inscription is supposed to mean. We can only add this to the pile of riddles involving Lorimier and his family.
Reminder: The bicentennial commemoration of Louis Lorimier's death is this Sunday, June 24, at Old Lorimier Cemetery from 4-6 PM. It's going to be hot, but the cemetery has plenty of shade. I recommend bringing lawnchairs.
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The webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers, James Baughn has lost track of the number of websites he manages. On the side, he maintains even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix.
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