West Laurel Hill Cemetery

West Laurel Hill Cemetery

Infobox_nrhp | name =West Laurel Hill Cemetery
nrhp_type = hd

caption =
location= Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
locmapin = Pennsylvania
area = convert|200|acre|km2
built =1869
architect= Trumbauer,Horace; Cope & Stewardson
architecture= Classical Revival, Beaux Arts, Gothic
added = August 14, 1992
governing_body = Private
refnum=92000991cite web|url=http://www.nr.nps.gov/|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

West Laurel Hill Cemetery is a cemetery located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the site of many notable burials, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992 (#92000991). [ [http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/PA/Montgomery/state3.html PENNSYLVANIA - Montgomery County] , National Register of Historic Places. Accessed August 29, 2007.] West Laurel Hill was designed as a rural cemetery and is a "sister" institution to the notable Laurel Hill Cemetery nearby in Philadelphia.


The history of West Laurel Hill Cemetery is intertwined with its sister cemetery, Laurel Hill. To understand and appreciate this history, it is first necessary to delve just a bit into the early history of Laurel Hill.frame|200px">
right|West Laurel Hill Cemetery| Harry Wright - The Father of Baseball
Laurel Hill Cemetery, which overlooks the Schuylkill River just north and west of Philadelphia, was founded in 1836, and is the second oldest rural cemetery in the United States and the first cemetery to be designated a National Landmark. This new type of cemetery featured a suburban setting with the combination of decorative plantings and monuments. In 1867, the General Assembly of Philadelphia authorized the city of Philadelphia to purchase land to create a park for the recreational benefit of its residents. It was called Fairmount Park. The commission's intent was admirable; for Laurel Hill Cemetery, the unintended result was not. The newly created park bounded Laurel Hill on three sides and a major thoroughfare bounded it on the fourth. Laurel Hill Cemetery was enclosed forever, the hoped for expansion of the cemetery no longer possible.

With John Jay Smith, President of Laurel Hill Cemetery leading the way, the Board of Managers purchased land on the other side of the river, about a quarter mile or so from the now "locked in" Laurel Hill Cemetery. Situated high above the Schuylkill River, this new land consisted of three large farms nestled between two deep ravines. With a major roadway on the third side, and the river on the fourth, this land had its own natural security; future intrusion by streets and roadways was highly unlikely. West Laurel Hill Cemetery was incorporated in 1869, and its first burial was conducted in 1870.

In the mid-nineteenth century, establishing West Laurel Hill, a convert|200|acre|km2|sing=on cemetery outside the city limits of Philadelphia, was a new and daring experiment. Because the new cemetery's location was so high above the river, bringing funerals from the city by steamboat, as was the practice at Laurel Hill, was not practical; some type of alternative transportation was needed. After much research it was discovered that using railway cars to bring funerals from a city to the countryside was already being used successfully. The decision was made to use the railroad to bring funerals from Philadelphia to West Laurel Hill Cemetery. The Reading Railroad even made a special siding at its Pencoyd Station just for the accommodation of funeral trains. The timing could not have been better. The rapid expansion of Philadelphia forced the residents to look beyond the city for a sacred resting place of their departed. And when they did, they found West Laurel Hill. Combining ease of access by railroad, security from future roadway encroachment and the great beauty of the land itself, the cemetery was an immediate success.

Notable burials

*Green Adams (1812-1884), represented ushr|Kentucky|6 from 1847-1849 and from 1859-1861. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000036 Green Adams] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*David Hayes Agnew (1818-1892), noted surgeon. Attended President James Garfield's gunshot wound.
*Hobey Baker (1892-1918}, namesake of U.S. college hockey's outstanding player award and only member of both the College Football and Hockey Halls of Fame.
*John Cromwell Bell (1892-1974), briefly governor of Pennsylvania for three weeks in 1947.
*Richard Binder (1839-1912) Medal of Honor recipient. [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/gravesites/states/pages_af/binder_richard.html Richard Binder] , Home of Heroes. Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897-1973), biographer.
*Benjamin Markley Boyer (1823-1887), represented ushr|Pennsylvania|6 from 1865 to 1869. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000723 Benjamin Markley Boyer] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis (1850-1933), founder of Curtis Publishing Company, which published the "Ladies' Home Journal" and the "Saturday Evening Post". [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12873 Cyrus Herman Kotzschmer Curtis] , Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Loren Eiseley (1907-1977), anthropologist. [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6451 Loren Eiseley] , Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Jacob Augustus Geissenhainer (1839-1917), represented New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 1889 to 1895. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=G000119 Jacob Augustus Geissenhainer] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Alfred C. Harmer (1825-1900), represented ushr|Pennsylvania|5 from 1871 to 1875, and from 1877 until his death in 1900. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H000215 Alfred Crout Harmer] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Herman Haupt (1817-1905), Union Army General and engineer. [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12883 Herman Haupt] , Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), originator of Mother's Day who then spent most of her life fighting its commercialization.
*Samuel K. McConnell, Jr. (1901-1985), represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives from 1944 to 1957. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000354 Samuel Kerns McConnell, Jr.] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*John Reilly (1836-1904), represented ushr|Pennsylvania|17 from 1875 to 1877. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=R000154 John Reilly] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Matthew Simpson (1811-1884), a notable Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
*Edwin Sydney Stuart (1853-1937), Mayor of Philadelphia from 1891 to 1895 and as the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1907 to 1911. [ [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/stuart.html#RHX0R1INV Edwin Sydney Stuart] , The Political Graveyard. Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*Joseph Earlston Thropp (1847-1927), member of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000248 Joseph Earlston Thropp] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]
*George Austin Welsh (1878-1970), represented ushr|Pennsylvania|6 from 1923 to 1932. [ [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000289 George Austin Welsh] , "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Accessed August 29, 2007.]


External links

* [http://www.forever-care.com/ West Laurel Hill Cemetery web site]

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