Mary Ellis grave, Loews Theatre parking lot, New Brunswick NJ (read description for the history)

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Jane Neill-Hancock

Wayne, United States

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  • 300gsm card with a satin finish
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Artist's Description

A rare find indeed and mentioned in Weird NJ magazine.

When you drive around the back of the Loews Theatre in New Brunswick NJ, in the middle of the parking lot you will a strange raised cemetery plot, right in the middle of the parking spaces.

One of the people buried here is Mary Ellis who came to New Brunswick in the 1790’s to stay with her younger sister Margaret. She met and fell in love with a sea captain and former Revolutionary War officer. The Captain sailed down the Raritan River and out to sea one day, vowing that when he returned he and Mary would be wed. He even left her his beloved horse to look after in his absence.

Every day Mary would ride his horse from her sister’s house, on what is now Livingston Avenue, down to the banks of the river to eagerly await a glimpse of her lover’s returning ship.

In 1813, she purchased a parcel of farmland overlooking the river from which she would maintain her daily vigil. Mary died there fourteen years later in 1827, still faithfully anticipating her captain’s return. She was buried on the property, along with her sister, some other family members, and according to local lore, the captain’s horse.

The plot, which was originally surrounded by an ornate wrought iron fence, lay in a rural, wooded setting until the twentieth century. Over the years the ownership of the land has changed hands several times. Mary’s farm was paved over, and for many years was the site of the Route 1 Flea Market.

After the demolition of the Route 1 Flea Market in the 1990s the property was redeveloped and became the Loews Cineplex. The parking lot was re-graded, making Mary’s grave stand even taller than before. Still parked in a prime spot, Mary’s grave has been given a new retaining wall, and a few small trees have even been planted close by.

The early 1970’s pop hit “Brandy,” was really an ode to Mary. The Looking Glass, the band that wrote and recorded the song, were in fact from New Brunswick, and did record other songs based on local sites. “Brandy,” the fine girl, according to the song, was in love with a ship captain who could not leave his true love, the sea, to marry her.

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