Forest Park Cemetery (Brunswick, New York)
Entrance gate to Forest Park Cemetery
|Location||Brunswick, New York|
|Owned by||Town of Brunswick|
|Size||22 acres (8.9 ha)|
|Number of graves||1400 (estimate)|
Forest Park Cemetery, also known colloquially as Pinewoods Cemetery due to its location at 387 Pinewoods Avenue, is an abandoned cemetery, located in Brunswick, New York, United States just east of the city of Troy. It is famous for the numerous urban legends regarding ghosts.
Forest Park Cemetery was first incorporated in 1897 by a group of wealthy Troy businessmen under the Forest Park Cemetery Corporation, though based on older gravestones, the cemetery had apparently been in use since at least 1856. The original area chosen for the cemetery occupied over 200 acres (81 ha) of farmland in what was then rural Brunswick. Meant to outgrow and even outclass Troy's Oakwood Cemetery, it was originally designed by Garnet Baltimore, the first African-American graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Baltimore planned on the cemetery to offer visitors a park-like experience, complete with statuary, winding trails, and a large receiving tomb near the entrance.
The Forest Park Cemetery Corporation went bankrupt in 1914 and the cemetery was never completed to the original plans. The only structure that had been built was the receiving tomb, which still stands today, albeit in a dilapidated state. The receiving tomb was built from granite and featured a copper roof with a large skylight and contained 128 marble catacombs used for storing corpses during the winter.
In 1914 the cemetery was re-incorporated by New York City natives under the name Forest Hills Cemetery. Due to financial difficulty, the corporation sold all but 22 acres (8.9 ha) to the neighboring County Club of Troy, for use in the construction of its golf course. Regardless, the corporation also went bankrupt during the 1930s. The cemetery went mostly unattended except for a local man named William Christian who volunteered to be caretaker and did so from 1918 to his death in 1961. Christian kept notes of interments, which indicate that the cemetery served upwards of 1,400 burials. Burials continued in the cemetery until about 1975, when the cemetery went completely unattended.
Until 1987, control of the cemetery was in dispute. During that year, control was vested in the Town of Brunswick, at the decree of New York State. In response, the town created a Forest Park Cemetery Advisory Council in 1991, but it ended up being disbanded in 1994. Based on local obituaries, the cemetery was put back into use in the late 1990s and has been used as recently as 2005 for a burial. Employees from the Town of Brunswick made multiple attempts during the 1990s and 2000s to remove the overgrown brush and plants, which had become a major problem.
In 1988, the cemetery was featured in the local Times Record newspaper after two youths discovered a partially exhumed grave. Two shovels, a pick and several beer cans were found at the crime scene. Although police reports were filed, no one was apprehended for the crime.
In 2007, a local Boy Scout and Brunswick resident Evan Duffey completed his Eagle Scout project, a "census" and map of all the gravestones in the cemetery. A map and database containing all of the gravestones and the names upon them is available at the Town of Brunswick offices for those trying to locate family buried in Forest Park.
The cemetery has been the center of many local and national urban legends. For one, it is said that the cemetery ranked in a LIFE Magazine article entitled "Top Ten Most Haunted Places in the Country". Some also say that the cemetery is the "Gateway to Hell". Others also claim that a decapitated statue of an angel bleeds from the neck. After researching the subject, the Brunswick Town Historian states that she has never come across the LIFE Magazine article, and thus it has become another legend. Although Time magazine and Life we contacted by a local person who talked to both magazine companies and no such article was ever written, hence just another urban legend debunked. The "blood" on the statue also seems to be due to a moss that, when rubbed on a humid day, turns red.
In addition, the legends of hauntings also come by stories of the mausoleum doors collapsing to the ground revealing no caskets interred inside. This has been explained by the fact the building was only a receiving tomb for winter months. During cold months of the year it was nearly impossible to prepare a gravesite.
Likely the result of these legends has contributed to the vandalism and overall lack of "respect" for the property.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Forest Park Cemetery.|
- Eager, Bill (1991-03-31). "Brunswick Giving Forest Park Cemetery New Life". Times Union (Albany). p. C3. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
- Zankel, Sharon (2005). "Garnet Douglass Baltimore Also a Part of Brunswick’s History" (PDF). Brunswick Town Newsletter. Town of Brunswick. p. 7. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
- "Honoring a son of Troy" (PDF). Rensselaer Magazine. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
- "I Spy My Hometown: Forest Park Cemetery". Upper Hudson Library System. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- "Bessie J. Wager, 96 (Obituary)". Times Union (Albany). 1995-11-25. p. B8. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- "Edna M. Murphy (Obituary)". Times Union (Albany). 2005-10-16. p. B7. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- Revai, Cheri; Heather Adel Wiggins (2005). Haunted New York. Stackpole Books. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-8117-3249-5.
- Morrow, Ann (2002-10-31). "What Was That? Is the creep factor of Forest Park Cemetery about active spooks or overactive imaginations?". Metroland. Retrieved 2009-06-20.