Forest Lawn Cemetery
architect: John Blocher (?)
owner: John Blocher
years built: 1884
The Blocher monument was built by John Blocher as a memorial to his only son, Nelson. The former was a wealthy shoe dealer who lived at the corner of Huron Street and Delaware Avenue and had a summer home at Williamsville, now the site of the Blocher Home for the Aged.
The granite was cut by the firm of John McDonnell from quarries at Quincy, Massachusetts, following a design made by Mr. Blocher himself, who had taken up sculpture and architecture as a hobby after having retired from business. The bell which was to cap the whole, was cut from a single block since the design specified that it should have no vertical joints. It was twelve feet in diameter, twelve feet high, and weighed twenty-nine tons.
The cylindrical stone support was sat upon the foundation after much difficulty and the bell successfully moved into place. As the cap stone was being let down upon the bell, however, the supporting timbers gave way, so that the stone fell on the bell and cracked it. A law-suit followed which attracted much attention, with the court finding the contractors liable. The second bell was put into place without mishap.
The marble statuary also was designed by Mr. Blocher. He made a plaster model of his son lying on a couch and employed Paul Roche of Westerly, Rhode Island to come to Buffalo and cut it from Carrara Marble under his own supervision. The result, however, was so disappointing that Mr. Blocher destroyed it with an axe. He then sent photographs as well as measurements and description of his son, his wife and himself to Italy, where the three figures were carved in Carrara marble by Frank Torrey.
In the final grouping of the figures the son lies upon a couch with his mother standing on one side and his father on the other. Against a pilaster at the head of the couch, poised slightly above the floor, is an angel with extended wings. The inscription on the bronze plaque read as follows: “These statues represent Mr. and Mrs. John Blocher standing beside their child who died following a year’s illness. The statue above is imaginative. The tomb is beneath the floor of the monument.”
This fantastic memorial belongs in spirit to the mid-nineteenth century. The construction of its beautifully hewn blocks of granite is much more remarkable than its sculpture.
This memorial belongs in spirit to the mid-nineteenth century. The construction of its beautifully hewn blocks of granite is much more remarkable than its sculpture.