10 Hauntingly Beautiful Cemeteries to Visit Before Halloween
In the new book, 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, author Loren Rhoads brings readers into these unique spaces in our world and provides fascinating historical background to each of them.
Below, learn more about 10 American cemeteries, each with gorgeous grounds and interesting stories, and pick up Rhoads’ book to learn about the other 189. You might even live close enough to pay one a visit.
The Old Dutch Burial Ground, Sleepy Hollow, NY
If you grew up reading about Ichabod Crane and the legend of the Headless Horseman, take the opportunity to visit the real-life Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving’s famous story took place. Located in a suburb just outside of New York City, the cemetery features characters from the story including members of the Crane family and the real-life Catriena Van Tassel, along with a large number of Revolutionary War soldiers.
Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
The second-oldest garden cemetery in the United States was also the most popular tourist attraction in Philadelphia when it first opened its doors. Among the 75,000 residents, visitors can expect to see the graves of six passengers of the Titanic, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Sarah Jospha Hale (of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” fame).
Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC
Saint Paul’s Episcopal church, which sits adjacent to this lush cemetery, started in 1712 and is the only surviving Colonial church in the capital. In addition to countless political figureheads buried here, famous residents include Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, and Charles Francis Jenkins, the inventor of television.
Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, LA
While there are a number of notable cemeteries in New Orleans, Metairie is one of the largest in the area. Before it was turned into a graveyard in the 1800s, the area was a racetrack, and the oval shape of the track can still be seen today. Among many prominent southern residents, visitors will find the grave of Jefferson Davis, who served as the first and only president of the Confederate States of America.
Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH
Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery is spectacular in the fall, between the lush gardens and the can’t-beat view of Lake Erie. In addition, this cemetery is home to America’s first true mausoleum, which holds the tomb of President James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881. The majestic building combines Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine architecture and features stunning turquoise doors.
Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, IL
Graceland is home to a number of statues that are significant in American architectural history, including the Getty mausoleum, a limestone cube that has been designated a Chicago landmark. The statue above is Lorado Taft’s Eternal Silence, and is one of many bronze statues in the area that has inspired ghost stories. The graveyard is also home to a number of famous residents, including George Pullman, who perfected the sleeping car in trains, and Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion in boxing.
Texas State Cemetery, Austin, TX
This notable cemetery, opened in 1854, was built to celebrate the history of the Republic of Texas. A renovation of the graveyard in 1994 spruced up the grounds and prompted the construction of a visitor center to welcome guests. While many of the residents are prominent political figures from the area, in January 2017, astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, was buried here.
Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, CA
This lush graveyard plays host to more historic Californians than any other cemetery in the state. Among the headstones, visitors will find newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Charles de Young, who founded the San Francisco Chronicle, and Lefty O’Doul, the baseball player who helped the Japanese develop their professional league. Cypress Lawn also boasts more stained glass in one place than anywhere else in the United States.
Hollywood Forever, Hollywood, CA
Located adjacent to the Paramount Studios lot, this cemetery has a history of Old Hollywood glamour, like when Douglas Fairbanks’ widow paid $75,000 (the equivalent of $1.2 million today), to have a monument featuring a 100-foot reflecting pool erected in his honor. Visitors will find countless historical celebrities and a number of punk icons, including Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, among the residents.
Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, OR
This gorgeous cemetery started as a family cemetery, but after victims of a steamship accident were buried nearby in 1854, the cemetery began to grow. The cemetery is located in southeast Portland, and is considered one of Portland’s historical pioneer cemeteries. Among the shady trees, and important figures from the area, visitors will find the unmarked graves of nearly 10,000 unknown pioneers buried there.