Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Watertown, MA – 7-12-14

Mt. Auburn, founded in 1831, is the first landscaped garden cemetery in the country. Actually, it’s the first one called a “cemetery” (Greek for “a sleeping place”) – until Mt. Auburn, they were all burial grounds or graveyards. Designed in conjunction with the Mass. Horticultural Society, it is a garden, arboretum, bird sanctuary, and a still-active cemetery. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story gave the dedication speech; his address is widely regarded as a precursor/inspiration for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Over 90,000 people are buried here – including Story himself, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy; lots of Cabots, Lodges,  congressmen, governors, and judges; architects Charles Bulfinch (State House) and Buckminster Fuller; Isabella Stewart Gardner; Longfellow; psychologists B.F. Skinner and Abraham Maslow; Bernard Malamud; cookbook author Fannie Farmer; painter Winslow Homer; and sportscaster Curt Gowdy!

Many of the notable gravestones are hard to find along winding little paths between the roads. The grounds are beautiful. We walked a roundabout way to the summit of the hill in the center, and climbed Washington Tower on the summit – striking views of Boston and Cambridge, although the trees have grown so tall that we don’t get as clear a view of the cities as visitors got when the Quincy granite tower was completed in 1854.

One of the most striking pieces is the Sphinx – a tribute to those who fought and fell in the Civil War – “American Union preserved; African slavery destroyed; by the uprising of a great people; by the blood of fallen heroes.”

Worth the visit – followed by dinner at Grendel’s Den and live music in Harvard Square.

double-click through each photo for full size and captions

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