These grave houses, which I photographed at Mt. Hope Methodist cemetery in Hancock County in 2010, are still among my favorites. Sadly, they were in poor condition and were gone by 2016. They protected the final resting place of James M. Garland (31 March 1827-19 May 1912) & Mary E. Garland (10 September 1836-9 November 1888) and though they are difficult to date, were likely placed around the time of Mr. Garland’s death in 1912.
Grave houses may be as old as architecture itself, as a protection for the deceased. There are myriad forms scattered throughout North America and they were widely used by Native peoples; in the South they are more common in mountain communities than elsewhere. The Garland grave houses are of the framed picket variety, similar to fencing.
It’s amazing to think that these lasted for a century. As with most examples made of wood, they are most vulnerable to the elements. The first ones I ever saw, at the Dickson Cemetery in my home county of Ben Hill, were very elaborate and sadly, by the time I wanted to photograph them, they were already lost. If you see any or know of any, please share them with me.