Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts)

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Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Thoreau family plot in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
34A Bedford St., Concord, Massachusetts
CountryUnited States
Size31.6 acres (12.8 ha)
Find a GraveSleepy Hollow Cemetery
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts) is located in Massachusetts
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts)
Cemetery site in U.S. state of Massachusetts
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts) is located in the United States
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts)
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Concord, Massachusetts) (the United States)
Coordinates42°27′48″N 71°20′40″W / 42.46333°N 71.34444°W / 42.46333; -71.34444Coordinates: 42°27′48″N 71°20′40″W / 42.46333°N 71.34444°W / 42.46333; -71.34444
ArchitectCleveland, Horace W.S.; et al.
NRHP reference No.98000991[1]
Added to NRHPAugust 19, 1998

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a rural cemetery located on Bedford Street near the center of Concord, Massachusetts. The cemetery is the burial site of a number of famous Concordians, including some of the United States' greatest authors and thinkers, especially on a hill known as "Authors' Ridge."


A sign by the cemetery

Sleepy Hollow was designed in 1855 by noted landscape architects Cleveland and Copeland, and has been in use ever since. It was dedicated on September 29, 1855; Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a dedication speech and would be buried there decades later.[2] Both designers of the cemetery had decades-long friendships with many leaders of the Transcendentalism movement and is reflected in their design.[citation needed]

"Sleepy Hollow was an early natural garden designed in keeping with Emerson's aesthetic principles," writes Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn in his Nature and Ideology. In 1855, landscape designer Robert Morris Copeland delivered an address he entitled The Usefull [sic] and The Beautiful, tying his principles of naturalistic, organic garden design to Emerson's Transcendentalist principles. Shortly afterward, Copeland and his partner were retained by the Concord Cemetery Committee, of which Emerson was an active member, to design a cemetery for the growing community.[citation needed]

On September 29, 1855, Emerson delivered the opening address of the cemetery's consecration.[3] In it he lauded the designers' work. "The garden of the living," said Emerson, was as much for the benefit for the living, to communicate their relationship to the natural world, as it was to honor the dead. By situating the monuments to the dead within a natural landscape, the architects conveyed their message, said Emerson. A cemetery could not "jealously guard a few atoms under immense marbles, selfishly and impossibly sequestering [them] from the vast circulations of nature [which] recompenses for new life [each decomposing] particle."[4]

Known as Sleepy Hollow for some 20 years prior to its use as a cemetery, Emerson told his audience at the consecration ceremony that September day in Concord, "When these acorns, that are falling at our feet, are oaks overshadowing our children in a remote century, this mute green bank will be full of history: the good, the wise, and the great will have left their names and virtues on the trees... will have made the air tuneable and articulate."[citation needed]

To realize their vision, Emerson noted that the cemetery's designers had fitted the walks and drives into the site's natural amphitheater. They also left much of the original natural vegetation in place, instead of removing it and replanting with ornamental shrubs, as was often the case. Several years after Emerson's address, a visitor to the new cemetery noted the abundance of wild plants such as woodbine, raspberry, and goldenrod, as well as the natural moss and roots of pine trees which were left in situ by the designers.[5]

The Melvin Memorial, also known as Mourning Victory, sculpted by Daniel Chester French marks the grave of three brothers killed in the Civil War.[citation needed]

Melvin Memorial (1908) (Daniel Chester French, sculptor; Henry Bacon, architect)

People are still being buried in Sleepy Hollow. The back of the newer portion of the cemetery leads to a path system which connects to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.[citation needed]

Notable burials[edit]

The grave of Louisa May Alcott at Sleepy Hollow
Ralph Waldo Emerson's grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
The grave of Franklin Benjamin Sanborn at Sleepy Hollow

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ McAleer, John. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1984: 664. ISBN 0-316-55341-7.
  3. ^ Emerson's address, entitled An Address to the Inhabitants of Concord at the Consecration of Sleepy Hollow, is written in Emerson's own hand and is part of the Emerson Papers at Houghton Library, Harvard University. The address contains crossed-out revisions in the text, as edited by the author.[1]
  4. ^ Nature and Ideology: Natural Garden Design in the Twentieth Century, Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, Published by Dumbarton Oaks, 1997 ISBN 0-88402-246-3
  5. ^ Nature and Ideology: Natural Garden Design in the Twentieth Century, Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, Published by Dumbarton Oaks, 1997 ISBN 0-88402-246-3
  6. ^ James C. Melvin, The Melvin Memorial, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts, A Brother's Tribute, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1910), p. xvi.[2]
  7. ^ Minden, Henry (25 April 1955). "Secret Research Team Here Aided H-Bomb Development Project Matterhorn - Headed by Wheeler" (Volume 79, Number 56).
  8. ^ Minden, Henry. "Ring laser gyro and magnetic mirror therefor". Google Patents. Google.

External links[edit]