Vandals desecrate mausoleum, gravestone in rural Albany cemetery



City police are investigating vandalism at the Albany rural cemetery, including an anti-gay slur and other black paint spray-painted graffiti on a white marble mausoleum and gray granite marker.

Desecration of the historic cemetery burial grounds apparently occurred either late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning when a frequent cemetery walker spotted it and notified cemetery staff.

“It is the most vicious act we have had in the 35 years that I have been here,” said chief executive John Buszta. “I think it’s an act of random vandalism, unrelated to the burial grounds.”

“We think of bored teenagers in the area who did something really stupid,” said Detective Sgt. George Thomaides. He ruled out a hate crime or crime targeting family members buried in the mausoleum.

The vandalized Hosler Mausoleum can be found in Section 130 at the northwest end of the 467-acre cemetery, near homes along Schuyler Road.

The ornate mausoleum features a stained glass window and a filigree copper door grille, with space for six coffins along its walls. Five burials began with Patriarch Frederick W. Hosler, the family patriarch, born in 1864 and died in 1940. He was president of the Hosler Ice Cream Co. on Spruce Street in Albany. His wife, Mattie May Wheeler, and other members of his family are buried there. The last burial was Harold J. Magee in 1980.

The vandals spray-painted “RIP” and a six-letter anti-gay slur on either side of the richly carved columns, along with a caricature of a person’s head and a capital “A” on the side and side. the back of the mausoleum.

Nearby, “Argo” was spray painted – an apparent reference to Ben Affleck’s political thriller – on a cross on the front of a granite gravestone for William J. Smith and two family members.

Thomaides said investigators did not recover a spray paint or any other evidence.

Investigators will compare the cartoon with a database of taggers and graffiti kept by police in an attempt to match the cemetery vandals, Thomaides said.

“In my opinion, it was the work of young children or a graffiti tagger,” said Buszta, although there is no indication of alcohol consumption activity among adolescents in the area. .

The Hosler Mausoleum commands a small grassy island in a secluded part of the picturesque and wooded cemetery, established in 1841. Albany Rural is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and many political notables are buried there, including President Chester A. Arthur, including the tomb is the most visited among more than 135,000 tombs.

Albany Rural is of national significance as it was at the forefront of the country’s rural cemetery movement in the mid-19th century. At that time, cemeteries were located on the outskirts of overcrowded and polluted northeastern towns. They were landscaped by landscape architects who incorporated wooded ravines, streams, and monumental stone carvings to create a park-like setting for the dead and a popular destination for Victorian-era picnickers.

Buszta said the cemetery will apply for a grant from the State Cemetery Council’s vandalism fund to pay for the specialized cleaning process needed to remove the spray paint from the porous marble mausoleum and granite marker. He could not provide an estimate of the costs of the cleanup.

Following the vandalism, cemetery officials are considering additional security measures, including surveillance cameras, Buszta said.

“It’s terrible. Why ? asked Chris Bunting, a gardener for eight years. “Why would anyone do that in a grave? It’s a total disrespect.”

“Just so sad and sick. I hope the vandals are caught,” Paula Lemire, an Albany Rural expert who blogs frequently on the cemetery’s history, wrote on Twitter.

[email protected] • 518-454-5623 • @PaulGrondahl

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