Not every town has a cemetery that is written up in guide books such as Fodor’s. A few come to mind, the most famous being Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, where Jim Morrison, American singer and songwriter with The Doors, (amongst others) draws many visitors. Another, closer to home, is Rochester’s Mount Hope cemetery. Dedicated in 1838, it is America’s first municipal cemetery.
We stopped by the cemetery for an abbreviated visit one sunny morning when we were in Rochester, New York, this summer. This little map is mounted near the entrance, and the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery offer tours. We weren’t there on the appropriate evening, however. A visitor’s guide is also said to be available at the cemetery office, but we didn’t have time for a long visit, so didn’t check.
The original Gothic Revival Chapel, with an underground holding vault, was built in 1863. The crematory was a later addition. Both are now out of use.
The 196 acre cemetery is in part sited on an eskar, an outcropping of land left behind by a retreating glacier thousands of years ago. Some mausoleums are set right into the hillside and gravestones climb the slopes.
Mount Hope is the permanent resting place of over 350,000 people and has an annual growth rate of about 500 burials per year. The first to be interred at Mount Hope was William Carter, who was buried on Aug. 18th, 1838. However, 4-year-old Samuel Miller, who died on the day of the dedication ceremony in October of that year, became the first official burial after the consecration of the new cemetery.
Famous residents include suffragist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817-1895).
The memorial above commemorates Dr. Hartwell Carver (1789-1875). Carver was an early promoter of what would become the transcontinental railway. He participated in the hammering of the Golden Spike that officially joined the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869 at Promontory, Utah. His memorial was erected by the Union Pacific Railroad.
There are many interesting sculptures throughout the cemetery.
I especially liked this bas-relief grieving angel.
And the clean lines of this fine art-nouveau figure.
Some of the most touching monuments aren’t grand at all, such as this little stone, simply engraved Our Twin Boys.
Or this stone, remembering My Lottie.
May they all rest in peace.