Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery
|Location||Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts|
|Architect||Alexander Wadsworth; Dr. Jacob Bigelow|
|Architectural style||Exotic Revival, Other, Gothic Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||75000254|
|Added to NRHP||April 21, 1975|
|Designated NHLD||May 27, 2003|
With classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain, 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." This language and outlook eclipsed the previous harsh view of death and the afterlife embodied by old graveyards and church burial plots.
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.
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. Mount Auburn Cemetery was inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and was itself an inspiration to cemetery designers, most notably at 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. Bigelow, a medical doctor, was concerned about the unhealthiness of burials under churches as well as the possibility of running out of space. With help from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded on 70 acres (280,000 m2) of land authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature for use as a garden or rural cemetery. The original land cost $6,000; it later extended to 170 acres (0.69 km2). The main gate was built in the Egyptian Revival style and cost $10,000 ($249,818.60 in 2015). The first president of the Mount Auburn Association, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, dedicated the cemetery in 1831. Story's dedication address, delivered on September 24, 1831, set the model for many more addresses in the following three decades. Garry Wills focuses on it as an important precursor to President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
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), Mt. Hope Cemetery, America's first municipal rural cemetery (Rochester, New York, 1838), Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn, 1838), The Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland 1838, Allegheny Cemetery (Pittsburgh, 1844), Albany Rural Cemetery (Menands, New York, 1844), Spring Grove Cemetery (Cincinnati, 1844), 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).
Mount Auburn was established at a time when Americans had a sentimental interest in rural cemeteries. 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. 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.
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 Scottish firm of Allan & Ballantyne were preserved.
In 1870 the cemetery trustees, feeling the need for additional function space, purchased land across Mount Auburn Street and constructed a reception house. This building was supplanted in the 1890s by the construction of the Story Chapel and Administration Building, adjacent to the main gate. The first reception house was designed by Nathaniel J. Bradlee, and is (like the cemetery) listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The second building was designed by Willard Sears, and is built of Potsdam sandstone in what Sears termed "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.
More than 93,000 people are buried in the cemetery as of 2003. 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. 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.
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- Elizabeth Cary Agassiz (1822–1907), scientist, author
- Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), scientist
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907), author
- Nathan Appleton (1779–1861), congressman
- William Appleton (1786–1862), congressman
- Julia Arthur (1869-1950), actress
- Thomas F. August (1926-2005), attorney and politician who served as the 31st Mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts
- Hosea Ballou (1771–1852) Universalist theologian and minister
- Benjamin E. Bates (1808–1878), industrialist, founder of Bates College
- Jacob Bigelow (1787–1879), designer of Mt. Auburn Cemetery
- J. W. Black (1825–1896), photographer
- Edwin Booth (1833–1893), actor
- Nathaniel Bowditch (1773–1838), mathematician, seaman, author; his monument was the first life size bronze to be cast in America
- William Brewster (1851–1919), ornithologist
- Peter Bent Brigham (1807–1877), Boston businessman and philanthropist
- Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), American Episcopal bishop
- Charles Bulfinch (1763–1844), architect
- McGeorge Bundy (1919–1996), presidential cabinet official
- George Cabot (1752–1823), statesman
- James Henry Carleton (1814–1873), United States Army officer
- William Ellery Channing (1780–1842), Unitarian theologian
- John Ciardi (1916–1986), poet, translator
- Alvan Clark (1804–1887), astronomer and telescope maker
- Robert Creeley (1926–2005), poet
- Benjamin Williams Crowninshield (1772–1851), statesman, U.S. Secretary of the Navy
- Frank Crowninshield (1872–1947), creator and editor of Vanity Fair magazine
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- Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876), actress
- Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1821–1888), artist
- Samuel Dexter (1761–1816), congressman
- Dorothea Dix (1802–1887), nurse, hospital reformer
- Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), religious leader
- Harold "Doc" Edgerton (1903–1990), engineer, scientist
- Charles William Eliot (1834–1926), Harvard University president
- Edward Everett (1794–1865), Governor of Massachusetts, President of Harvard University, United States Secretary of State, speaker at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
- William Everett (1839–1910), congressman
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- Fannie Farmer (1857–1915), cookbook author
- Fanny Fern (1811–1872), feminist author
- Annie Adams Fields (1834–1915), author and hostess; wife of James Thomas Fields
- James Thomas Fields (1817–1881), writer and publisher
- William M. Folger (1844-1928), United States Navy rear admiral and grandson of Mayhew Folger
- Felix Frankfurter (1882–1965), United States Supreme Court Justice
- Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983), architect
- Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924), art collector, museum founder
- Charles Dana Gibson (1867–1944), illustrator
- Augustus Addison Gould (1805–1866), conchologist and malacologist
- Curt Gowdy (1919–2006), sportscaster
- Asa Gray (1810–1888), 19th century American botanist
- Horace Gray (1828–1902), Supreme Court justice
- Horatio Greenough (1805–1852), sculptor
- Charles Hale (1831–1882), journalist, statesman
- Charles Hayden (1870–1937), financier and philanthropist
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894), physician/author
- Winslow Homer (1836–1910), artist
- Albion P. Howe (1818–1897), Union army general
- Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), activist, poet - Author of Battle Hymn of the Republic.
- Samuel Gridley Howe (1801–1876), physician, abolitionist, and advocate of education for the blind
- Horatio Hollis Hunnewell (1810-1902), banker, railroad financier, philanthropist, amateur botanist
- Dr. Harriot Kezia Hunt (1805–1875) early female physician; her monument, a statue of Hygieia, was carved by Edmonia Lewis
- Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897), escaped slave and author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
- Melvin Johnson (1909–1965), American lawyer, Marine Officer and firearms designer.
- Edward F. Jones (1828–1913), New York lieutenant governor 1886-1891
- Michael Kelly (1957–2003), journalist and writer, columnist, and editor
- Edwin H. Land (1909–1991), scientist
- Christopher Columbus Langdell (1826–1906), legal educator
- Herbert Leeds (1855–1930), amateur golfer and golf course architect
- Abbott Lawrence (1792–1855), politician, philanthropist
- Henry Cabot Lodge (1850–1924), politician
- Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902–1985) politician
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), poet
- A. Lawrence Lowell (1856–1943), Harvard University president
- Amy Lowell (1874–1925), poet
- Charles Russell Lowell (1835–1864), Civil War general and casualty of the Battle of Cedar Creek
- Francis Cabot Lowell (1855–1911), U.S. Congressman and Federal Judge
- James Russell Lowell (1819–1891), poet and foreign diplomat
- Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843–1905), Wife of Gen. Charles Russell Lowell, sister of Col. Robert Gould Shaw
- Maria White Lowell (1821–1853), poet and wife of James Russell
- Bernard Malamud (1914–1986), writer
- Jules Marcou (1824–1898), geologist
- Abraham Maslow (1908–1970), psychologist who created Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Leopold Morse (1831–1893). United States House of Representatives (five terms)
- William T.G. Morton (1819–1868), demonstrator of ether anesthesia
- Stephen P. Mugar (1901–1982), Armenian-American philanthropist and founder of the Star Market chain of supermarkets (also the father of David Mugar)
- Joseph B. Murdock (1851–1931), United States Navy rear admiral who served as commander-in-chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet and as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
- John Murray (1741–1815), founder of the Universalist Church in America
- Shahan Natalie (1884–1983), principal organizer of Operation Nemesis, Armenian national philosophy writer
- Charles Eliot Norton (1827–1908), scholar and author
- Robert Nozick (1938–2002), philosopher
- Richard Olney (1835–1917), statesman
- Frances Sargent Osgood (1811–1850), poet
- Harrison Gray Otis (1765–1848), U.S. Representative, mayor of Boston
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- Maribel Y. Owen (1940–1961), U.S. pairs figure skating champion
- Laurence R. Owen (1944–1961), U.S. ladies skating champion
- Harvey D. Parker (1805–1884), hotelier
- Daniel Pinckney Parker (1781–1850), merchant
- Francis Parkman (1823–1893), historian
- Fanny Parnell (1844–1882), poet, Irish Nationalist, and the sister of Charles Stewart Parnell
- Josiah Quincy III (1772–1864), statesman, educator
- John Rawls (1921–2002), philosopher
- Anne Revere (1903–1990), actress
- Marjorie Newell Robb (1889–1992), last first class passenger of the RMS Titanic to die
- William Eustis Russell (1857–1896), governor of Massachusetts
- George Lewis Ruffin (1834-1886) first African American to serve on the Boston City Council.
- Julian Seymour Schwinger, theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize Winner*
- Lemuel Shaw (1781–1861), chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
- B. F. Skinner (1904–1990), psychologist
- Franklin W. Smith (1826–1911), promoter of historical architecture
- Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776–1832), phrenologist
- Daniel C. Stillson (1830–1899), Inventor of the Stillson pipe wrench
- Joseph Story (1779–1845), United States Supreme Court Justice
- Charles Sumner (1811–1874), statesman
- Frank William Taussig (1859–1940), economist
- Randall Thompson (1899–1984), composer
- William Ticknor (1810–1864), publisher and the founder of the publishing house Ticknor and Fields
- William Davis Ticknor, Sr. (1881–1938), president and chairman of the board of Commercial Solvents Corporation and president of Commercial Pigments Corporation
- William S. Tilton (1828–1889), Civil War brigade commander
- Charles Turner Torrey (1813–1846), American abolitionist
- Charles Tufts (1781–1876), businessman who donated the land for Tufts University
- Maribel Vinson (1911–1961), nine-time U.S. skating champion and coach
- Benjamin Waterhouse (1754–1846), physician
- Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867), publisher
- Robert Charles Winthrop (1809–1894), statesman
- Roger Wolcott (1847–1900), governor of Massachusetts
- Joseph Emerson Worcester (1784–1865), lexicographer
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- Nathaniel Dearborn. A concise history of, and guide through Mount Auburn: with a catalogue of lots laid out in that cemetery; a map of the grounds, and terms of subscription, regulations concerning visitors, interments, &c., &c. Boston: N. Dearborn, 1843. 1857 ed.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mount Auburn Cemetery.|
- Mount Auburn Cemetery official site
- Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape, a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan