How To Find Sissieretta’s Grave Site

“Do you know how many times a day I answer that question?!” Poor Ray Rickman. I was going to save this piece for next month, but I gotta help the guy out if I can.

Last summer, Mr. Rickman, who runs the Stages of Freedom museum and gift shop downtown, spearheaded the effort to finally purchase and erect a headstone for the grave of internationally celebrated opera singer Sissieretta Jones. There was a weekend of festivities celebrating the 150th anniversary of her birth. (See Daily Dose 6.7.18)

If you go: You will note a small Memory Medallion, a QR code, on the face of the marker. It will lead you to the story of this fascinating woman — excerpted from the 2012 biography by Maureen Lee —  as well as a list of donors who made it possible! Mr Rickman was pleased to note that some visitors have been leaving small rocks on the marker in accordance with the Jewish tradition. I wish the cemetery was in better repair and maybe we can work on that in the spring.

I am going to give you a slightly different way to find the grave site than the one I was given, because I have the advantage of having photographs, see below. This is simpler I think.

Directions to Sissieretta’s Grave: Park on the Broad Street side of what Google maps still calls Grace Church Cemetery (hours are 8am to 6pm). Enter the gate and walk straight ahead for about 20 feet or so. Stop and look to the right and you will see two globular evergreen trees (see picture below) and right between them is the back of Sissieretta’s grave marker. Now you can find your own way. Always be respectful; find a route around, not over, the other graves.

Profits from the Stages of Freedom museum and gift shop help to support the fantastic Swim Empowerment Program (swimming lessons for inner city kids) and other programs that I can feature next month. Stop in and see Mr. Rickman — he is quite an entertaining raconteur — and do some shopping. The store is packed with wall art, jewelry, posters, ephemera, and lots of books, his particular area of interest being children’s vintage books with that wonderful old cover art. The store is at 10 Westminster, in that intersection with the Turk’s Head Building and the RISD Library.

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