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Brownsville City Cemetery and Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery

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c. 1850, 1868. 201–401 E. Madison St.

The cemetery is related to those of Matamoros and New Orleans with its aboveground crypts indicating a high water table. The five-foot-tall brick perimeter wall from 1868 is punctured with a gate at E. 5th Street that opens to an avenue aligned with the vaults of notable members of the European, Mexican, and Anglo-American families who comprised Brownsville society. While the crypts in brick and stucco include ornate late-nineteenth-century monuments and elaborate iron-fenced enclosures, the 1886 brick vault built for Don Lucio Bouis and his son captures attention with its Portscheller-like brick detailing. Short, three-quarter column pilasters stand at each corner and support an overscaled full entablature with triglyphs, cornice, and shallow pediments facing all sides. The trade connection between Brownsville and Rio Grande City, and the fact that Portscheller was at the height of his career in 1886 with the construction of the similarly detailed De la Peña Building ( SM26), may well link this tomb with the brick kilns of the German master mason. The city cemetery and the adjacent Hebrew cemetery at E. Madison and E. 2nd streets contain records with the names of more than thirty thousand burials, indicating multiple interments per lot.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.

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