Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bare Ruined Choirs

Bare Ruined Choirs, an 8x8 plein air by Shirley Fachilla

This is a chapel in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Mt. Olivet is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a beautiful cemetery, filled with famous and not-so-famous Nashvillians, some of whom had both grandiose and quirky notions of what their final resting place should be.
And though the cemetery is immaculate, this chapel has been abandoned and deserted for some time now. A new more accessible chapel was built in 1996, one with plenty of parking. For awhile this one was left open and became a repository for beer cans and other more embarrassing rubbish. Now there’s a chain link fence around it and it’s been left to fall apart in solitude.
I thought of Shakespeare’s “bare ruined choirs’ when I first saw it on a brilliant spring day filled with new growth and promise. (Not to seem more literate than I am, I remembered the phrase but not the author.) The new for the chapel was the new grass growing in its gutters. According to Historic Nashville, it’s one of the city’s most endangered historic buildings. Sadly, I can only agree.


  1. I like your painting and the write-up. I saw that chapel once and still remember its eerie, crumbling, haunted quality. I didn't know until recently this cemetery is protected...that's a good thing, because there are such interesting monuments.

  2. Thank you, Lisa. I think the land the cemetery occupies is some of the most beautiful in Nashville. It is wonderful that it's protected by the National Register of Historic Places.

  3. Nice whites and greys in this painting.

  4. Thanks, Douglas. That is just what I was trying for.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...