Lichgate on High Road, Tallahassee, FL
Not far from the Florida state capitol lies a tranquil, secluded, three-acre field that has been preserved as a memorial to Dr. Laura Pauline Jepsen, noted philanthropist, author, and long-time professor of English at Florida State University. Dr. Jepsen bought the undeveloped field in the mid-1950s to protect a century’s old live oak that stood at its center. In majestic and dramatic expression, the branches sweep skyward to create a broad canopy overhead and bow to touch the ground beneath. As the images in this photo set depict, the mosaic of light and shadow and the march of the seasons assure an ever-changing landscape.

Dr. Jepsen built her home in the field in the style of an English Tudor cottage. The foundation and fireplace were constructed from granite quarried in Georgia. The flooring, paneling, and framing were built of old wood--cedar, red cypress, redwood, and white pine--from the Pacific Coast, New England, and Florida. The cottage she named “Lichgate on High Road,” which borrows from Medieval England a tradition where the lichgate, or passageway, marked the entrance to the churchyard. The lichgate physically separated the church from the burial ground and spiritually divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. It was often a covered structure where the funeral bier was temporarily placed and where mourners gathered en route to the gravesite. A lichgate was erected at the fence surrounding Dr. Jepsen’s cottage as a symbolic gesture to our past, present, and future. Dr. Jepsen explained “‘that merely going east or west through a lichgate, one may enjoy the best of both worlds, the here and a semblance of the hereafter.’” Similarly, she added, the “f’oundations of the present are quite literally laid on the ashes of the past.’” Dr. Jepsen’s cherished home is distinguished in the National Register of Historic Places.
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