Old Burying Ground

Photo added by Jan Franco

Old Burying Ground
Also known as:  Harvard Square Cemetery

The Old Burying Ground is the most historic cemetery in Cambridge. It was established around 1635. Initially, it covered only about an acre, but its size doubled as more of the Common was enclosed. It contains over 80 17th century gravestones, important not only for their age but also for their artistic qualities.

The setting of the Burying Ground (within the Cambridge Common historic district) is unparalleled, with Christ Church (1760) on one side and the First Parish Church Unitarian (1833) on the other.

As the only cemetery in Cambridge for nearly two hundred years, the Burying Ground received a cross section of the population, from paupers to Harvard presidents. Burial spaces in the early years were not permanently marked, and the cemetery contains many more remains than are in the 1,218 known graves. The oldest, dated 1653, belongs to Anne Erinton, but the stone may have been placed later, as headstones did not come into general use until the 1670s.

Except for the ashes of Christ Church's minister, Dr. Gardiner Day, which were placed under a path in 1981, the last burial was that of the Reverend Samuel McChord Crothers, a minister of the First Parish, Unitarian, in 1927.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission refers to this cemetery in MACRIS as CAM.800 Old Burying Ground.

This cemetery is referred to as GR1 Cemetery at Harvard Square in the "Vital Records of Cambridge Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849."

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GPS Coordinates: 42.37529, -71.11968

  • Added: 10 May 2003
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #1962692