The Adams Memorial – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

The Adams Memorial

Rock Creek Cemetery

A haunting tribute to pioneering photographer Clover Adams. 


The Adams Memorial was commissioned in 1886 to honor Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams, deceased photographer and wife of novelist Henry Adams.

Adams, a socialite and respected amateur portraiture photographer, committed suicide in 1885 by drinking a photography developing chemical. After her death, her husband burned her papers and letters. He never mentioned her name again. 

After receiving a commission from Henry Adams, renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens completed the memorial in 1891. The androgynous figure is not a likeness of Clover Adams, rather the shrouded figure represents the Buddhist perception of Nirvana, an inspiration Henry Adams picked up while in Japan. 

The memorial resides in Rock Creek Cemetery in Northwest Washington, DC. The statue is unmarked, but can be identified by the thick circle of bushes surrounding it. Pickup a cemetery map to find the memorial, or simply meander through this old and beautiful cemetery. 

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June 18, 2013

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