Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg

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The Harrisburg Cemetery chartered 1845 by act of state legislature, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (#85000866) is the the oldest and largest within the limits of the city of Harrisburg. Prior to its establishment the dead were buried in small family plots or churchyards in what was then the Borough of Harrisburg, it became obvious that these small grounds were becoming obsolete and impeded development in the fast growing Borough.

In 1843 the first meeting of what became the Harrisburg Cemetery Association (H.C.A.) was held and two sites were chosen, one south of the now present location was disqualified due to the placement by planners of a street that would have bisected the property , the other, 12 acres of pasture and woodland owned by the Herr family situated on a promontory overlooking the Pennsylvania statehouse was purchased in 1844.

The cemetery has continually evolved with changing funerary styles, the original 12 acres were laid out by the surveyors John Roberts & Hother Hage in the antebellum park style of cemeteries such as Mount Auburn in Boston and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia. With the then main entrance (closed circa 1920) a show piece of original woodland underscored with plantings of rhododendron and azalea following the winding drive up to the cemetery.

The early years of the cemetery were continually filled with improvements to both the grounds and buildings, 1849 the H.C.A. board approved the building of the "Caretakers Cottage" that was completed in 1850, its Gothic revival style a design of A.J. Downing's that won the cemetery's place on the National Register is still in use today.

Circa 1856 the churchyards and scattered family lots were being closed, interrupted by the Civil War the effort to open land within the borough continued until 1867 with dead removed from the Episcopal, Lutheran Reformed, Methodist and Presbyterian parish yards to ground within the cemetery. One example being the Lutherans whose emptied church yard became the site of one of Harrisburg's railroad stations (P.R.R.) and other commercial ventures.
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Harrisburg Cemetery Reviews
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  • Lots of large gravesites, famour people (1st Mayor of San Francisco, Abe Lincoln's Sec. of War duriing Civil War, Founder of the Churh of God, etc), Some have staircases on either side which you have ...  more »
  • Because it was such a cold windy day, we choose to drive around the cemetery. The roads are old and grown over with grass. It's a little creepy, but in a good way.  more »
  • David, the caretaker, will take you on a hour tour around the cemetery pointing out notable folks buried there, and there are several! Including business folks, suffragettes, actors and a bank robber....  more »

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