Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Evolving View of Cemeteries

In light of the recent controversy about the proper respect for and use of cemeteries, Gossips refers readers to this article, which appeared in March 2011 in The Atlantic: "Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries." 

Thanks to Peter Jung, who spearheaded the restoration of the Gifford family plot, which contains the grave of Sanford Robinson Gifford, for bringing this article to Gossips attention. 


  1. A cemetery can be so much more!
    One of the cemeteries mentioned in Peter's link is Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.

    Yes, dogs on a leash are welcomed.

    It was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss, who worked on the design and construction of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Hotchkiss spent the next 46 years of his life improving the property as superintendent of Bellefontaine Cemetery

    It is a well used resource for schools, providing teachers guides for study of history of St. Louis, Civil War history, art and architecture, math, literature, all stimulated by the study of people buried here.

    It is also a resource for horticulture and wildlife study. In addition to local birds, since it is near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, it is a flyway for migrating birds.

    Tours are self guided or docent led. One tour even features wine and hors d'oeuvres.

    It provides 'green burial' and ashes can be scattered in the woods and marked.
    Get out of a rut and use your imagination cemetery officials.

    1. Thank you for that. It makes sense to appreciate open space and use it for peaceful and thoughtful enjoyment.

  2. The Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands is another example of the rural cemetery movement that swept the later half of the 19th Century.

  3. Dear Judy S., Bellefontaine, where both sides of my family are buried, is very beautiful indeed. It is romantically landscaped and is immaculately maintained. It's a perfect example of the picturesque movement in 19c America.

    -- Jock Spivy

  4. Oakwood Cemetery in Troy is great example of a park like cemetery. Parts of it resemble a sculpture garden more than a cemetery. I'm guessing that it was "the place" to be buried in the mid 1800's as it's the final resting place of many notable people.

  5. Sanford Gifford was a contemporary of Frederic Church and there are paintings by Gifford at Olana...