Mount Auburn Cemetery

Last updated
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemeter - June 2005.JPG
Mount Auburn Cemetery
USA Massachusetts location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°22′16″N71°08′41″W / 42.37111°N 71.14472°W / 42.37111; -71.14472 Coordinates: 42°22′16″N71°08′41″W / 42.37111°N 71.14472°W / 42.37111; -71.14472
Built1831
Architect Alexander Wadsworth; Dr. Jacob Bigelow
Architectural styleExotic Revival, Other, Gothic Revival
NRHP reference No. 75000254 [1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 21, 1975
Designated NHLDMay 27, 2003

Mount Auburn Cemetery is the first rural, or garden, cemetery in the United States, located on the line between Cambridge and Watertown in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 4 miles (6.4  km ) west of Boston. It is the burial site of many prominent Boston Brahmins, as well as being a National Historic Landmark.

Contents

Dedicated in 1831 and set with classical monuments in a rolling landscaped terrain, [2] it marked a distinct break with Colonial-era burying grounds and church-affiliated graveyards. The appearance of this type of landscape coincides with the rising popularity of the term "cemetery," derived from the Greek for "a sleeping place," instead of graveyard. This language and outlook eclipsed the previous harsh view of death and the afterlife embodied by old graveyards and church burial plots. [3]

The 174- acre (70  ha ) cemetery is important both for its historical aspects and for its role as an arboretum. It is Watertown's largest contiguous open space and extends into Cambridge to the east, adjacent to the Cambridge City Cemetery and Sand Banks Cemetery. It was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2003 for its pioneering role in 19th-century cemetery development. [4]

History

The land that became Mount Auburn Cemetery was originally named Stone's Farm, though locals referred to it as "Sweet Auburn" after the 1770 poem "The Deserted Village" by Oliver Goldsmith. [5] Mount Auburn Cemetery was inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and was itself an inspiration to cemetery designers, most notably at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (1838), Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, and Abney Park in London. Mount Auburn Cemetery was designed largely by Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn with assistance from Jacob Bigelow and Alexander Wadsworth.

Bigelow came up with the idea for Mount Auburn as early as 1825, though a site was not acquired until five years later. [6] Bigelow, a medical doctor, was concerned about the unhealthiness of burials under churches as well as the possibility of running out of space. [7] With help from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded on 70 acres (28 hectares) of land authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature for use as a garden or rural cemetery. [8] The original land cost $6,000; it later extended to 170 acres (69 hectares). The main gate was built in the Egyptian Revival style and cost US$10,000(equivalent to $243,031 in 2020). [9] The first president of the Mount Auburn Association, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, dedicated the cemetery in 1831. [7] Story's dedication address, delivered on September 24, 1831, [10] set the model for many more addresses in the following three decades. [11] Garry Wills focuses on it as an important precursor to President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. [12]

The cemetery is credited as the beginning of the American public parks and gardens movement. It set the style for other suburban American cemeteries such as Laurel Hill Cemetery (Philadelphia, 1836), Mount Hope Cemetery (Bangor, Maine, 1834), America's first municipal rural cemetery; Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn, 1838), The Green Mount Cemetery (Baltimore, Maryland, 1839) Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY, 1838), Lowell Cemetery (Lowell, Massachusetts, 1841), Allegheny Cemetery (Pittsburgh, 1844), Albany Rural Cemetery (Menands, New York, 1844), Swan Point Cemetery (Providence, Rhode Island 1846), Spring Grove Cemetery (Cincinnati, 1844), [13] and Forest Hills Cemetery (Jamaica Plain, 1848) as well as Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York. It can be considered the link between Capability Brown's English landscape gardens and Frederick Law Olmsted's Central Park in New York (1850s).[ citation needed ]

Mount Auburn was established at a time when Americans had a sentimental interest in rural cemeteries. [14] It is still well known for its tranquil atmosphere and accepting attitude toward death. Many of the more traditional monuments feature poppy flowers, symbols of blissful sleep. In the late 1830s, its first unofficial guide, Picturesque Pocket Companion and Visitor's Guide Through Mt. Auburn, was published and featured descriptions of some of the more interesting monuments as well as a collection of prose and poetry about death by writers including Nathaniel Hawthorne and Willis Gaylord Clark. [14] Because of the number of visitors, the cemetery's developers carefully regulated the grounds: They had a policy to remove "offensive and improper" monuments and only "proprietors" (i.e., plot owners) could have vehicles on the grounds and were allowed within the gates on Sundays and holidays. [14] However, Mount Auburn differed from previously established cemeteries in that it was open to the general public and was not restricted to specific religious groups, reflecting the growing religious pluralism of Boston during the time. [15]

In the 1840s, Mount Auburn was considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in the nation, along with Niagara Falls and Mount Vernon. [16] A 16-year-old Emily Dickinson wrote about her visit to Mount Auburn in a letter in 1846. [16] [17] 60,000 people visited the cemetery in 1848 alone. [16]

Buildings

The cemetery has three notable buildings on its grounds. Washington Tower was designed by Bigelow and built in 1852–54. Named for George Washington, the 62-foot (19 m) tower was built of Quincy granite and provides excellent views of the area. Bigelow Chapel was built in the 1840s and rebuilt in the 1850s, also of Quincy granite, and was renovated in 1899 under the direction of architect Willard Sears to accommodate a crematorium. Its interior was again renovated in 1924 by Allen and Collins. Through all of these alterations, stained-glass windows by the Scottish firm of Allan & Ballantyne were preserved. [18]

In 1870 the cemetery trustees, feeling the need for additional function space, purchased land across Mount Auburn Street and constructed a reception house. [19] This building was supplanted in the 1890s by the construction of the Story Chapel and Administration Building, adjacent to the main gate. [18] The first reception house was designed by Nathaniel J. Bradlee, and is (like the cemetery) listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [19] The second building was designed by Willard Sears, and is built of Potsdam sandstone in what Sears characterized as "English Perpendicular Style". The chapel in this building was redecorated in 1929 by Allen and Collins to include stained-glass by New England artist Earl E. Sanborn. [18]

Cemetery today

Mt. Auburn Cemetery
(view as a 360deg interactive panorama) Mt. Auburn Cemetery 8.jpg
Mt. Auburn Cemetery
( view as a 360° interactive panorama )

More than 93,000 people are buried in the cemetery as of 2003. [9] A number of historically significant people have been interred there since its inception, particularly members of the Boston Brahmins and the Boston elite associated with Harvard University, as well as a number of prominent Unitarians.

The cemetery is nondenominational and continues to make space available for new plots. The area is well known for its beautiful environs and is a favorite location for bird-watchers; over 220 species of birds have been observed at the cemetery since 1958. [20] Guided tours of the cemetery's historic, artistic, and horticultural points of interest are available.

Mount Auburn's collection of over 5,500 trees includes nearly 700 species and varieties. Thousands of very well-kept shrubs and herbaceous plants weave through the cemetery's hills, ponds, woodlands, and clearings. The cemetery contains more than 10 miles (17 km) of roads and many paths. Landscaping styles range from Victorian-era plantings to contemporary gardens, from natural woodlands to formal ornamental gardens, and from sweeping vistas through majestic trees to small enclosed spaces. Many trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are tagged with botanic labels containing their scientific and common names.

The cemetery was among those profiled in the 2005 PBS documentary A Cemetery Special .

Boston skyline from Mount Auburn October 2014 panorama.jpg
A panoramic view of the Boston Skyline as seen from the Washington Tower at Mt. Auburn.

Notable burials

Bigelow Chapel Bigelowchapel.jpg
Bigelow Chapel

See also

Related Research Articles

Cemetery Place of burial

A cemetery, burial ground, gravesite or graveyard is a place where the remains of dead people are buried or otherwise interred. The word cemetery implies that the land is specifically designated as a burial ground and originally applied to the Roman catacombs. The term graveyard is often used interchangeably with cemetery, but a graveyard primarily refers to a burial ground within a churchyard.

Watertown, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Watertown is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and is part of Greater Boston. The population was 35,329 in the 2020 census. Its neighborhoods include Bemis, Coolidge Square, East Watertown, Watertown Square, and the West End. It is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that retain the title of "town" while functioning under state law as cities.

Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn American politician

Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn was an American soldier, lawyer, author, and statesman. Dearborn was the first President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, and the author of many books.

Fair Lane United States historic place

Fair Lane was the estate of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his wife, Clara Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan, in the United States. It was named after an area in Cork in Ireland where Ford's adoptive grandfather, Patrick Ahern, was born. The 1,300-acre (530 ha) estate along the River Rouge included a large limestone house, an electrical power plant on the dammed river, a greenhouse, a boathouse, riding stables, a children's playhouse, a treehouse and extensive landmark gardens designed by Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen. The residence and part of the estate grounds are open to the public as a historical landscape and house museum and preserved as a National Historic Landmark. Part of the estate grounds are preserved as a university nature study area.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Newark, New Jersey)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery in the North Ward of Newark in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. It is located on the west bank of the Passaic River in Newark's Broadway neighborhood, opposite Kearny. It occupies approximately 40 acres and was designed by Horace Baldwin. The cemetery is listed on both the New Jersey Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

Abney Park Cemetery

Abney Park cemetery is one of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries in London, England.

Forest Hills Cemetery United States historic place

Forest Hills Cemetery is a historic 275-acre (111.3 ha) rural cemetery, greenspace, arboretum and sculpture garden located in the Forest Hills section of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The cemetery was established in 1848 as a public municipal cemetery of the town of Roxbury, but was privatized when Roxbury was annexed to Boston.

Spring Grove Cemetery United States historic place

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a nonprofit rural cemetery and arboretum located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the third largest cemetery in the United States, after the Calverton National Cemetery and Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and is recognized as a US National Historic Landmark.

Rural cemetery Type of cemetery

A rural cemetery or garden cemetery is a style of cemetery that became popular in the United States and Europe in the mid-nineteenth century due to the overcrowding and health concerns of urban cemeteries. They were typically built one to five miles outside of the city, far enough to be separated from the city, but close enough for visitors. They often contain elaborate monuments, memorials, and mausoleums in a landscaped park-like setting.

Hillside Cemetery (Middletown, New York)

Hillside Cemetery is located on Mulberry Street in Middletown, New York, United States. Opened in 1861, it was designed in the rural cemetery style by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, later noted for their collaboration on Central Park. There are several thousand graves, some with excellent examples of 19th-century funerary art.

Martin Milmore

Martin Milmore (1844–1883) was an American sculptor.

Jacob Bigelow

Jacob Bigelow was an American physician, botanist and botanical illustrator. He was architect of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, husband to Mary Scollay, and the father of physician Henry Jacob Bigelow. The standard author abbreviation Bigelow is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.

Mount Auburn Cemetery Reception House (1870) United States historic place

The 1870 Mount Auburn Cemetery Reception House is an historic building that originally served as the reception house of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The building is located at 583 Mount Auburn Street, across the street from the cemetery, and is no longer part of the cemetery. A new reception house was built on the cemetery grounds in 1896.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Taunton, Massachusetts) United States historic place

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is an historic cemetery at Crocker, Cohannet, and Barnum Streets in Taunton, Massachusetts. Opened in 1836, but based on a family burial ground dating to the early 18th century, it is the fourth garden cemetery in the U.S. rural cemeteries, based on the early Victorian model of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Pine Grove Cemetery (Lynn, Massachusetts) United States historic place

Pine Grove Cemetery is a cemetery whose main entrance is on Boston Street in Lynn, Massachusetts. It was established in the mid-19th century and it consists of 82 developed acres. There are approximately 88,000 to 90,000 interments at the cemetery.

Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherell

Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherell (1872-1888) was an architecture firm in Boston, Massachusetts. Its principals were Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee (1829-1888), Walter Thacher Winslow (1843-1909) and George Homans Wetherell (1854-1930). Most of the firm's work was local to Boston and New England, with a few commissions as far afield as Seattle and Kansas City.

Rural Cemetery (Worcester, Massachusetts)

Rural Cemetery is located on 180 Grove Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. More than 13,000 people are buried at the cemetery, including congressmen, mayors, governors, and professional people.

Alexander Wadsworth (landscape designer)

Alexander Wadsworth (1806-1898) was an American landscape architect and surveyor, best known for his work on the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Born in Hiram, Maine, Wadsworth studied civil engineering at Gardiner Lyceum before beginning his work as a surveyor in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He collaborated with Henry A. S. Dearborn on the topographic details of Mount Auburn Cemetery, and had a successful career designing parks and suburban subdivisions, primarily in eastern Massachusetts. Along with Francis Peabody, he also designed the Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts.

Woodland Cemetery (Quincy, Illinois) United States historic place

Woodland Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1020 South Fifth Street in Quincy, Illinois. Planned by politician John Wood and opened in 1846, the cemetery is a product of America's rural cemetery movement of the mid-nineteenth century. The cemetery's grave markers include smaller Victorian monuments and large Gothic Revival and Neoclassical structures. The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

References

  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. Bunting, Bainbridge; Robert H. Nylander (1973). Old Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge Historical Commission. p. 69. ISBN   0-262-53014-7.
  3. McDannell, Colleen; Lang, Bernhard (2001). Heaven: A history (2nd ed.). New Haven, CN: Yale University Press. ISBN   978-0300091076. OCLC   783036782.
  4. "Mount Auburn Cemetery". National Park Service. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  5. Wilson, Susan (2000). Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. p.  114. ISBN   0-618-05013-2.
  6. Reps, John W. (1992) [1965]. The Making of Urban America: A History of City Planning in the United States'. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p.  326. ISBN   978-0-691-00618-5.
  7. 1 2 Carrott, Richard G. (1978). The Egyptian Revival: Its Sources, Monuments, and Meaning, 1808–1858 . Berkeley: University of California Press. p.  86.
  8. Barth, Gunther (1989). Craig Robert Zabel (ed.). The Park Cemetery: Its Western Migration in American Public Architecture: European Roots and Native Expressions. Penn State Press. p. 61. ISBN   0-915773-04-X.
  9. 1 2 Rogak, Lisa (2004). Stones and Bones of New England: A Guide to Unusual, Historic, and Otherwise Notable Cemeteries. Globe Pequot. pp. 69, 71. ISBN   978-0-7627-3000-1.
  10. Joseph Story, An Address Delivered on the Dedication of the Cemetery at Mount Auburn, September 24, 1831 (Boston, J.T. & Edward Buckingham 1831)
  11. Alfred L. Brophy, "These Great and Beautiful Republics of the Dead": Public Constitutionalism and the Antebellum Cemetery
  12. Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America
  13. The Cincinnati Cemetery of Spring Grove, Report for 1857. C. F. Bradley, printers. 1857. pp.  3.
  14. 1 2 3 Douglas, Ann (1977). The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp.  210–211. ISBN   0-394-40532-3.
  15. Dupré, Judith (2007). Monuments: America's History in Art and Memory (1st ed.). New York: Random House. p. 23. ISBN   978-1-4000-6582-0. OCLC   70046094.
  16. 1 2 3 "The Cemetery That Was a 19th Century Tourist Attraction". New England Historical Society. New England Historical Society. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  17. "Reading 3: A Place for the Living--Leisure, Learning, and Mourning". ParkNet. National Park Service. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  18. 1 2 3 "NHL nomination for Mount Auburn Cemetery". National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  19. 1 2 "MACRIS inventory record for Mount Auburn Cemetery Reception House (583 Mount Auburn Street)". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  20. eBird. 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York. Available: http://www.ebird.org. (Accessed: May 16, 2014).

Further reading