The long, moody days of autumn are perfect for visiting some of New England's oldest cemeteries. These five spots provide a dose of history and a few ghost stories along with their beautiful scenery.
1. Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA
Mount Auburn Cemetery was established in 1831 and is America’s first garden cemetery. The beautiful, peaceful space attracts birdwatchers, horticulture clubs and enthusiasts of the arts. Guests are welcome to walk the space on their own during regular business hours or choose a guided tour. Topics include history, art, architecture, conservation, horticulture, and history and are led by knowledgeable Cemetery staff members or volunteer docents. Limited seasonal tours are also available.
2. Old Burying Point/Charter Street Cemetery, Salem, MA
Charter Street Cemetery is the oldest in historic Salem and has strong ties to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Founded in 1637, it serves as the final resting place of witch trial interrigator, John Hathorne; Bartholomew Gedney, a physician who examined several of the accused; Mary Corry - second wife of Giles Corry - who was pressed to death after he refused to stand trial for witchcraft; and Reverend Nicholas Noyes, the minister of Salem during the trials. Be sure to visit the Salem Witch Trials Memorial next to the cemetery to learn about the victims and pay your respects.
3. Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, CT
The 270-acre Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut was established in 1864. Featuring ponds, meadows, landscaped woodlands, and historic architecture, you could almost forget its main purpose. Guided tours have concluded for the season, but guests are welcome to walk the grounds and experience the art, history, and natural beauty of the cemetery daily from 7 am until dusk, and the adjacent Northam Memorial Chapel Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm.
4. Hope Cemetery, Barre, VT
Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont was established in 1895, and while you will certainly encounter historic stones, it also features some incredibly modern, artistic monuments. Barre is known as the “Granite Capital of the World,” and many of the headstones and monuments - including soccer balls, race cars, pyramids, and even life-sized sculptures of the graves' inhabitants - were created from local granite.
5. Point of Graves, Portsmouth, N.H.
Established in 1671, Point of Graves Cemetery in Portsmouth is New Hampshire’s oldest burial ground. Rumored to be haunted, it features beautifully preserved 18th century architecture and the final resting places of some of Portsmouth's most historical figures.