Laurel Hill Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery

Infobox_nrhp | name =Laurel Hill Cemetery
nrhp_type =nhl

caption =
location= 3822 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
locmapin = Pennsylvania
area =
built =1836
architect= John Notman et al.
architecture= Exotic Revival, Gothic, Classical Revival
added = October 28, 1977
governing_body = Private
refnum=77001185cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

Laurel Hill Cemetery, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the second major rural cemetery in the United States and one of the few cemeteries in the country designated as a National Historic Landmark. [ [ Listing] at the National Park Service] John Jay Smith, a librarian and editor with interests in horticulture and real estate who was distressed at the way his deceased daughter was interred in a Philadelphia churchyard, founded Laurel Hill in 1836. He and some other prominent citizens decided to create a rural garden cemetery five miles north of Philadelphia that was viewed, at the time, as a safe haven from urban expansion and that would be a respite from the increasingly industrialized city center. The city later grew past Laurel Hill, but the cemetery retained its sylvan character.


Famous Revolutionary War figures were initially relocated to Laurel Hill Cemetery to increase its cachet, including Continental Congress secretary Charles Thomson; Declaration of Independence signer Thomas McKean; Philadelphia war veteran and shipbuilder Jehu Eyre; Hugh Mercer, hero of the Battle of Princeton and director of the U.S. Mint, David Rittenhouse. During and after the American Civil War, Laurel Hill became the final resting place of hundreds of military figures including 42 Civil War era generals. Laurel Hill also became the favored burial place for many of Philadelphia's most prominent political and business figures including Matthias W. Baldwin, founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; Henry Disston, owner of the largest saw manufactory in the world (the Disston Saw Works), and Peter A. B. Widener, the financier.

Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1998, Laurel Hill Cemetery with its spectacular vistas and thousands of 19th Century and 20th Century marble and granite funerary monuments encompasses 74 idyllic acres terraced above the Schuylkill River in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Forests of obelisks dot the rolling terrain highlighted by elaborately sculpted hillside tombs and mausoleums. Overall, Laurel Hill contains more than 33,000 monuments and more than 11,000 family lots.

Designed by noted Scottish-American architect John Notman, Laurel Hill introduced new landscape ideas and burial concepts and became a model for the rural cemetery movement. Laurel Hill Cemetery stands as a rich repository of both art and historical artifacts. Its monuments embody the rich design, craftsmanship and iconography of 19th and 20th century American funerary art, from simple obelisks to elaborate mausoleums.

Much of the significance of Laurel Hill cemetery derives from its large number of mausoleums, built in a wide variety of styles by some of Philadelphia’s most distinguished families. Classical Revival, Gothic Revival, Egyptian Revival and other exotic styles are rendered in a wide palette of materials, including marble, granite, cast-iron and sandstone. Notable artists and architects, including Notman, Alexander Milne Calder and William Strickland contributed their designs. These monuments tell many stories of the history and evolution of not only the cemetery’s growth, but also of social and economic changes, the legacy of wars and of the individuals who shaped our nation’s history.

From its inception, Laurel Hill was intended as a civic institution designed for public use. In an era before public parks and museums, it was a multi-purpose cultural attraction where the general public could experience the art and refinement previously known only to the wealthy. Laurel Hill became an immensely popular destination in its early years and required tickets for admission. The writer Andrew Jackson Downing reported “nearly 30,000 persons…entered the gates between April and December, 1848.”

In 1978, The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded to support the cemetery. The mission of The Friends is to assist the Laurel Hill Cemetery Company in preserving and promoting the historical character of Laurel Hill. The Friends, in accordance with its by-laws, seek to achieve its mission by raising funds and seeking contributed services; by preparing educational and research materials emphasizing the historical, architectural and cultural importance of Laurel Hill Cemetery; and by providing tour guiding services so that the cemetery is available for educational use by the public.

As an important local destination, Laurel Hill is seen as a cultural gem and a destination for historians and connoisseurs of architecture and horticulture as well as for the interested public. Laurel Hill provides a fusion of history and art and is the final resting place of many of Philadelphia’s famous and elite.

Notable burials

Some of the notable persons buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery are:
*Robert Adams, Jr. (1849–1906), U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania [ Laurel Hill Cemetery] at Find-A-Grave]
*Matthias W. Baldwin (1795-1866), businessman, Baldwin Locomotive Works
*Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), U.S. army officer
*Robert Montgomery Bird (1803–1854), American novelist, playwright, and physician
*David Bispham (1857–1921), opera singer
*Charles E. Bohlen (1904–1974), U.S. diplomat
*Adolph E. Borie (1809–1880), Secretary of the Navy
*Charles Brown (1797-1883), U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania
*David Conner (1792–1856), U.S. naval officer
*Joel Cook (1842-1910), U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania
*Samuel W. Crawford(1829-1892), Union army general.
*John A. Dahlgren (1809–1870), U.S. naval officer
*Richard Dale (1756-1826), Revolutionary naval officer
*Henry Deringer (1786-1868), gunsmith
*Henry Disston (1819-1878), businessman, Disston Saw Works
*Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr. (1923-2006), businessman, sportsman, chairman of Widener University
*George Nicholas Eckert (1802-1865), U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania
*Robert H. Foerderer (1860-1903), U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania
*Adam Forepaugh (1831-1890), an entrepreneur, businessman, and circus owner
*Samuel Gibbs French (1818–1910), Confederate General
*Frank Furness (1839-1912), Medal of Honor recipient, architect
*Henry D. Gilpin (1801–1860), U.S. Attorney General
*Louis Antoine Godey (1804-1878) American editor and publisher
*Thomas Godfrey (1704–1749), optician and inventor
*Henry Schell Hagert (1826-1885). writer, poet, district attorney, Phila.
*Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), writer, poet
*Frederick Halterman (1831-1907), U.S. Congressman
*James Harper (1780-1873), U.S. Congressman
*Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler (1770–1843), first superintendent of the United States Coast Survey
*Joseph Hemphill (1770–1842), U.S. Congressman
*Owen Jones (1819–1878), U.S. Congressman
*Elisha Kane (1820–1857), Explorer.
*William D. Kelley (1814-1890), U.S. Congressman
*Michael Leib (1760-1822), U.S. Congressman
*Lewis Charles Levin (1808-1860), U.S. Congressman
*George Horace Lorimer (1868-1937), journalist
*Thomas McKean (1734-1817), lawyer and politician, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
*George Meade (1815-1872), Union General, victor at the Battle of Gettysburg
*George Gordon Meade Easby (1918-2005), great-grandson of George Meade and a celebrity
*Hugh Mercer (1726-1777), military officer
*Helen Abbott Michael (1857-1904), plant chemist
*William Millward (1822–1871), U.S. Congressman
*John Moffet (1831–1884), U.S. Congressman
*Edward Joy Morris (1815–1881), U.S. Congressman
*Thomas Murphy (1839–1900), Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross
*Charles Naylor (1806-1872), U.S. Congressman
*John Notman (1810-1865), architect and designer of Laurel Hill
*Titian Peale (1799-1885), artist
*John C. Pemberton (1814–1881), Confederate Civil War General
*Garrett J. Pendergrast (1802–1862), U.S. Civil War naval officer
*Boies Penrose (1860–1921), U.S. Senator
*Samuel J. Randall (1828–1890), U.S. Congressman
*Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872), American poet, sculptor, portrait-painter
*Joseph Reed (1741–1785), Continental Congressman
*John E. Reyburn (1845-1914), U.S. Congressman, mayor of Philadelphia
*William S. Reyburn (1882-1946), U.S. Congressman
*David Rittenhouse (1732-1796), astronomer, inventor, mathematician, surveyor
*John Robbins (1808–1880), U.S. Congressman
*Richard Rush (1780–1859), U.S. Attorney General
*Lawrence Saint (1885-1961), stained glass artist
*Jonathan Sergeant (1746–1793), Continental Congressman
*Charles Ferguson Smith (1807–1862) was a U.S. Army General
*Thomas Sully (1783-1872), portrait painter
*Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), mechanical and industrial engineer, management consultant, and "father of scientific management"
*Charles Thomson (1729-1824), secretary of the Continental Congress
*George Washington Toland (1796–1869), U.S. Congressman
*Levi Twiggs (1793-1847), officer in the U. S. Marine Corps
*Job Roberts Tyson (1803–1858), U.S. Congressman
*Richard Vaux (1816-1895), U.S. Congressman, mayor of Philadelphia
*Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-1887), architect
*Joseph E. Widener (1871-1943), thoroughbred owner/breeder
*Peter A. B. Widener (1834-1915), business tycoon, philanthropist
*Owen Wister (1860–1938), novelist, author of "The Virginian"


ee also

*List of United States cemeteries
*List of famous cemeteries

External links

* [ Laurel Hill Cemetery]
* [ Digital facsimile of 1876 Illustrated Philadelphia Directory with description of cemetery] (Adobe .pdf format)
* [ Laurel Hill Cemetery] at Find-A-Grave

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