Last weekend, I joined the Fresno Historical Society for a program at Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno. “Voices From the Past” was part live performance, part cemetery tour, and a totally interesting way to learn a bit about some of Fresno’s history.
The event began in the Odd Fellows Mausoleum. From what I understand, the mausoleum is rarely open to the public. It’s a remarkable building with columns and glass skylights, and is the resting place for over 200 Fresnans.
I love visiting cemeteries and mausoleums, so this was a real treat for me. I took way more photos than necessary, none of which do justice to this fantastic structure.
Inside the mausoleum is where the “living history” part of the program took place. Actors dressed in period clothing brought five of Fresno’s late 19th century citizens to life, telling the stories of how these individuals arrived in the area and went on to make their mark.
In between these presentations, we broke for a short intermission outside of the mausoleum, where we were served pastries, fruit, and coffee. It was a nice touch that I wasn’t expecting. The weather was pretty much perfect, and the cemetery grounds were peaceful. Guests walked around paying their respects to those interred nearby.
When the presentations were over, the tour began. Mountain View Cemetery is just one of the cemeteries that make up the burial grounds. The land is actually a collection of separately owned cemeteries, and as you walk around you can see markers indicating which cemetery you’re in.
Our tour group moved from lot to lot stopping at notable sites to view the final resting places of the characters we met in the mausoleum performances, as well as other famous Fresnans.
In all, the program was about three hours long. It cost $15 for non-members in advance and $20 at the door—a pretty great deal for a really interesting look at local history (and a nice walk on a spring day).
I really recommend checking out the Fresno Historical Society’s website, and following them on Facebook. They do programs throughout the year, including weekly tours at Kearney Mansion, the monthly History on Tap Pub Quiz (which is happening this Thursday), and themed parties at Christmas. On Sunday, May 13, the society will hold a Mother’s Day Champagne and Roses Reception, which you can learn all about here.