Historic cemeteries designed for the living as well as the dead
Visit historic cemeteries, like Evansville's Oak Hill (above), for park-like recreation space.|
This time of year most people probably think of cemeteries as spooky places where ghosts and ghouls hang out, but these historic places are complex cultural landscapes representing centuries of social, cultural and architectural heritage. Beginning in the nineteenth century, cemeteries increasingly took on additional functions as public parks, arboretums and outdoor museums, all while continuing to fulfill their traditional role as the final resting place for departed souls.
Evansville’s Oak Hill Cemetery dates from 1853, just as the “rural” or “garden cemetery” movement was becoming popular in the United States. Carefully landscaped burial grounds like Oak Hill, intended for use by the living as well as the dead. Oak Hill served as an important park-like recreational venue for Evansville’s citizens.
The cemetery has been described as a silent city, divided into neighborhoods with names—including German Triangle, Juniper Circle, or Gothic Mausoleum City.
Next time you want to take a stroll, go on a picnic, or have a family event, consider a visit to your local historic cemetery. After all, that’s what it was designed for.
Evansville offers tours of Oak Hill each year during May, Preservation Month. For more information, contact Dennis Au, Historic Preservation Officer, 812-436-7823, email@example.com.