Rock Creek Cemetery

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Rock Creek Church Yard and Cemetery
Rock Creek Cemetery, grave marker.jpg
Rock Creek Cemetery is located in District of Columbia
Rock Creek Cemetery
Rock Creek Cemetery is located in the US
Rock Creek Cemetery
Location Webster Street and Rock Creek Church Road, NW, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°56′52″N 77°0′47″W / 38.94778°N 77.01306°W / 38.94778; -77.01306Coordinates: 38°56′52″N 77°0′47″W / 38.94778°N 77.01306°W / 38.94778; -77.01306
Area 84.2 acres (34.1 ha)
Built 1719
Architectural style Gothic Revival
NRHP Reference # 77001498[1]
Added to NRHP August 12, 1977

Rock Creek Cemetery is an 86-acre (350,000 m2) cemetery with a natural and rolling landscape located at Rock Creek Church Road, NW, and Webster Street, NW, off Hawaii Avenue, NE, in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C., United States. It is across the street from the historic Soldiers' Home and the Soldiers' Home Cemetery. It also is home to the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. On August 12, 1977, Rock Creek Cemetery and the adjacent church grounds were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as, Rock Creek Church Yard and Cemetery.


The cemetery was first established in 1719, under the British colony of the Province of Maryland, as a churchyard within the glebe of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish. Later, the Vestry decided to expand the burial ground as a public cemetery to serve the city of Washington, D.C., which had acquired the cemetery, within its district boundaries as established in 1791, formerly, being a part of the state of Maryland, and formally established through an Act of Congress in 1840.

Rock Creek Cemetery statuary

An expanded cemetery was landscaped in the rural garden style, to function as both a cemetery and a public park. It is a ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish, with sections for St. John's Russian Orthodox Church and St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.

The park-like setting of Rock Creek Cemetery has many notable mausoleums, sculptures, and tombstones. The best known is the Adams Memorial, a contemplative, androgynous bronze sculpture seated before a block of granite that was created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White. It marks the graves of Marian Hooper 'Clover' Adams and her husband, Henry Adams, and sometimes, mistakenly, the sculpture is referred to as Grief.[2][3] Saint-Gaudens entitled it The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding.

Other notable memorials include the Frederick Keep Monument, the Heurich Mausoleum, the Hitt Monument, the Hardon Monument, the Kauffman Monument that is known as The Seven Ages of Memory, the Sherwood Mausoleum Door, and the Thompson-Harding Monument.[4]

Sculptors of works in the cemetery[edit]

Numerous fine works by unknown sculptors also exist in the cemetery.[5][6][7][8]

Mausoleum interior, Rock Creek Cemetery.

Notable interments[edit]


  • Cleveland Abbe (1838–1916), prominent American meteorologist (section M)
  • John James Abert (1788–1863), Chief of the Corps of Topographical Engineers
  • Henry Adams (1838–1918), American writer, descendant of two U.S. presidents; grave is marked by the Adams Memorial (section E)
  • Clover Hooper Adams (1843–1885), Washington hostess and accomplished amateur photographer, wife of Henry Adams; grave is marked by the Adams Memorial (section E)
  • Alice Warfield Allen (1869–1929), mother of the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson (section G)
  • Doug Allison (1846–1916), American baseball player
  • Frank Crawford Armstrong (1835–1909), Confederate general
  • Timothy P. Andrews (1794–1868), Union Army general and paymaster-general of the United States Army (1862-1864)
  • James B. Aswell (1869–1931), American educator and member of the House of Representatives from 1913 to 1931


Gravesite of Emile Berliner and family members


  • Catherine Cate Coblentz (1897–1951), writer, wife of William Coblentz (section O)
  • William Coblentz (1873–1962), American physicist, notable for pioneer contributions to infrared radiometry and spectroscopy (section O)




  • Charles S. Fairfax (1829–1869), Virginia-born California politician who was entitled to the British title 10th Lord Fairfax of Cameron
  • Stephen Johnson Field (1816–1899), American associate justice of Supreme Court (section A)
  • Peter Force (1790–1868), American politician, American lieutenant in the American Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812, newspaper editor, archivist, and historian, who served as the twelfth mayor of Washington, D.C., and whose library of historical documents became the first major Americana collection of the Library of Congress (section B)
  • Israel Moore Foster (1873–1950), American Republican Representative in Congress
  • William H. French (1815–1881), American military major general during the American Civil War and the Mexican War (section B)


Gravesite of Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor


  • John Marshall Harlan (1833–1911), American Supreme Court associate justice, known as the "Great Dissenter;" he wrote the lone dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (section R-11)
  • Patricia Roberts Harris (1924–1985), Ambassador, first African-American woman to serve in a presidential cabinet (section 20)
  • George L. Harrison (1887–1958), American banker, insurance executive, and political advisor during The Second World War
  • Frank Hatton (1846–1894), U.S. Postmaster General and editor of the Washington Post (section B)
  • Christian Heurich (1842–1945), German-born American founder of Heurich Brewery (1871–1954)
  • Samuel Billingsley Hill (1875–1958), U.S. Representative from Washington and member of the United States Board of Tax Appeals (now the United States Tax Court)
  • William Henry Holmes (1846–1933), known for scientific illustration of the American West, his role in controversy over the antiquity of humans in the Americas, and leadership at the Smithsonian Institution (section M)




Gravesite of Oliver Hudson Kelley




Gravesite of George Washington Riggs






Gravesite of Upton Sinclair




Gravesite of Charles Doolittle Walcott




See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Augustus Saint-Gaudens". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  3. ^ "1886 The Adams Memorial". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  4. ^ "Cultural Tourism DC". Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  5. ^ Goode, James M. The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1974 pp. 343-352
  6. ^!siartinventories&profile=ariall&page=1&group=0&term=Rock+Creek+Cemetery,+Washington,+District+of+Columbia&index=&uindex=&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=5&ts=1264013183323&deduping=
  7. ^ Kvaran, Einar E., Cemetery Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript
  8. ^ Marion, John Francis, Famous and Curious Cemeteries, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1977 pp. 78-80
  9. ^ United States Congress. "Thetus W. Sims (id: S000441)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  10. ^ McGrath, Charles (1 August 2012). "Gore Vidal dies at age 86". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Halifax Media Group. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  11. ^

External links[edit]