Ground Plan of Laurel Hill Cemetery


Front View of Laurel Hill Cemetery

As far as the place was surveyed into separate tots, in 1837; other surveys are progress. Purchasers may own one lot or more, according to their inclination, the size of their families, and receive a deed in perpetuity. The lots vary from __ feet by 10, 10 by 12, to 12 by 15, &c.

References. 1, Mansion; 2, Chapel; 3, Receiving Tomb; 4, Superintendent Cottage; 5, Coach-house; 6, Stabling; 7, Green-house; 8, Statues; 9, Garden Lodge; 10, Porter's Lodge; 11, Shrubbery; 13, River Schuylkill.

This "Home for the Dead," is beautifully situated on the Ridge Road, about three miles from the City, and upon the banks of the River Schuylkill. It was commenced by a worthy Association of gentlemen, in 1836, who have procured an Act of Incorporation, for the better furtherance of their purpose. The excellent Secretary of the Hoard, says, one of the first objects of which the Managers had in view, was to secure a spot, neither go near the City, as to be in danger of encroachments, by new buildings or streets, nor yet so far, as to present an obstacle, in the time which must be employed, at a funeral pace, in reaching it. Beauty of location, and a suitable soil, were also to be consulted; with these views, it was a long time before a proper place could be selected; all the requisites have been combined in Laurel Hill, and among them, not the least in our view, is the perfect adaptation of the Site, to its destined object, in regard to scenery.

In the second place, it was determined to divest the Cemetery of all objects, tending unnecessarily, to sadden the heart, or cast a gloomy feeling over the mind. In the separation from near and dear relatives and friends, we experience sufficient sorrow, without the concomitants of a damp solitude, neglected tombs, or walks.

The entrance is a pure specimen of Doric Architecture, perhaps the only one in America. It occupies a space of two hundred and sixteen feet, on the Ridge Road, three and an half miles from Philadelphia; and the enclosed grounds embrace, something more than twenty acres, extending from the turnpike to the river; the greater part of the space being one hundred feet above the highest watermark. The entrance presents a bold and commanding appearance, through which, is a vista of great beauty. On each side are lodges, for the accommodation of a gravedigger, and a gardener, while within is a Cottage Ornee, in the English styles for the residence of the Superintendent; a Gothic Chapel, of beautiful proportions, and chaste workmanship, with a superb (colored glass) window. A large Mansion House for visitors to rest in, or to retreat to, in case of a storm; a handsome receiving tomb, for those who may require its use; and stabling, sufficient to accommodate 40 carriages, should it rain at the time of a funeral; with a greenhouse, intended to be filled with such ornamental plants and shrubs, as may be required, for the embellishments of the grounds in summer, which, will not bear the cold of winter.

In such a pleasing spot, where the birds sing over the graves, and flowers and trees present their ever new verdure, the dreariness is lost; the utter oblivion that awaits the tenant of a confined graveyard, is forgotten death is here robbed of half its horrors.

Every nation, at one period of its history, has thus consecrated, a hallowed spot to the dead! Everywhere we trace them in the characteristic remains of the most distant ages, far back as history carries its traditionary outlines. They are found in the cairns and mounds of olden times, reared by the uninstructed affection of savage tribes, and everywhere the spots seem to have been selected, with the same tender regard to the living and the dead; that the magnificence of nature might administer comfort to human sorrow, and excite human sympathy. In these spots, family affection is gratified in the assurance, that father and child may repose, side by side, and no speculation scatter their bones, an offering to avarice, as has frequently been done, in all our principal cities.

Extracts from the Regulations of the Cemetery

Persons on foot are admitted, on all days, except the Sabbath. The carriages of lot holders have free access to the grounds. Saddle horses, and dogs are not admitted. On the Lord's Day, those only are admitted, who are in attendance on funerals. A receiving tomb has been constructed, for the use of lot holders, who are entitled to its use, for ten days in an inclement season. In order to keep the walks in order, coachmen are restricted to the avenues, and a broad wheeled carriage has been erected, for the conveyance of building materials, used in constructing tombs, vaults, monuments, enclosures, &c.

The raising the mounds, and erections of large slabs at the head and feet of graves, are considered by the Managers, as in bad taste, and injurious to the general appearance of the Cemetery; they recommend the cultivation of flowers, over the hallowed spots, or the construction of a flat monument of marble, elevated a few inches only, above the surrounding surface. Lots are not transferable, without the especial permission, in writing, of the Managers.

This Cemetery was incorporated by the nature, at their session, in 1836-7.

Since its establishment, Laurel Hill has received the patronage of more than Five Hundred of our most respectable and wealthy inhabitants, and we may state, without hesitation, that it is already the pride of our noble City; it is visited by all strangers, who cannot fail to bestow encomiums on the site; and the manner in which everything is kept.

One Hundred Thousand Dollars have been expended upon this elegant Cemetery.

 

History of Philadelphia


Source: A History of Philadelphia: With a Notice of Villages, in the Vicinity, Printed and published by Daniel Bowen, 1839


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