Was there ever a phone in Eddy’s tomb?

January 10, 2022

Was there ever a phone in Eddy's tomb?

Main entrance, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, c. 1890–1900.
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LCCN 2016801536.

According to a long-standing rumor, a telephone was installed in Mary Baker Eddy’s tomb at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is not true.1

The origin of this rumor seems to center around the circumstances following Eddy’s death on December 3, 1910. 

After her funeral on December 8, Eddy’s casket was kept in Mount Auburn Cemetery’s receiving tomb, until the gravesite could be made ready. In order to protect against vandalism, the casket was guarded around the clock. At that time a telephone was installed for the guards to use. It was removed after the casket was transferred to the gravesite in January 1911. 

On December 10, the Cambridge Chronicle reported this:

The presence of two guards, stationed within the receiving tomb, watching over the body was a cause of much comment, although the cemetery authorities said that there was nothing unusual in the fact. They will be stationed there until further orders from the Christian Science church leaders direct otherwise. Telephone wires running to the tomb brought out the fact that a telephone had been installed there the day of the funeral, to assist the guards in the event of anything out of the ordinary happening. It is likewise supposed that it will assist in having the guards on duty report at stated periods.2

No telephone was ever installed in Eddy’s grave. Neither was there ever a telephone in the tomb/memorial that was eventually erected there.

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  1. For more information, see The Boston Globe, 29 October 1987; Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), 513–514, fn. 116; Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus Books, 1998), 551–552; and Michael R. Davis, “The Mary Baker Eddy Memorial,” Sweet Auburn newsletter (Winter 1997/1998).
  2. “Mary Baker Eddy’s Funeral,” Cambridge Chronicle, 10 December 1910, 13.