6 Westchester Cemeteries Filled With Beauty and History
With pastoral beauty, ethereal artwork, and rich history, a meticulously cared-for cemetery is arguably an outdoor museum. These six Westchester cemeteries are prime exemplars of this and well worth the time to visit.
The 100-acre nondenominational Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which has numerous notable interments, is oft confused with the contiguous and smaller (at about three acres) Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground. Settlers from Holland built the latter between 1685 and 1697. The stone church and churchyard are still owned by the original congregation, known as The Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns.
Gate of Heaven Cemetery
Hawthorne • est. 1917
Gate of Heaven Cemetery has interred more than 190,000 Catholics and members of their families since its founding. John Cardinal Farley, archbishop of New York, consecrated the cemetery on July 14, 1918. It averages more than 2,200 interment services each year.
Old Van Cortlandtville Cemetery
Cortlandt Manor • est. 1750
On the National Register of Historic Places, this six-acre cemetery is the burial site of at least 44 American Revolutionary War soldiers (and possibly up to 60).
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African American Cemetery
Rye • est. 1860
There are an estimated 300 people buried at the African American Cemetery, located inside the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, although many do not have headstones or formal markers. Closed for new burials in 1964, when the segregation of cemeteries ended, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Among the interred are 22 veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II.
Valhalla • est. 1889
By the late 1800s, when many New York City cemeteries were becoming full, rural cemeteries were created near the railroads that served the city. Kensico was one such cemetery, with 460 acres of hillsides, pathways, woodlands, ponds, brooks, and streams, serving multidenominational needs.
Ossining • est. 1764
Also known as the Presbyterian Burying Ground at Sparta, the two-acre property was given to congregants of the First Presbyterian Church of Ossining by Dutch merchant Frederick Philipse, one of the greatest landholders in pre-Revolutionary New York. Sparta is the oldest organized burial ground in Ossining.