In 1831 Mount Auburn in Cambridge, MA was the first American rural cemetery, built to provide a place of burial, but also a park that would attract visitors on the weekend to enjoy a bit of nature. Trees, shrubs, winding pathways, and a lawn were included in the design.
Other American cities soon built their own rural cemetery.
The English garden writer John Claudius Loudon had first proposed the rural cemetery in the early 1800s.
Landscape designer John Notman (1810-1865), who followed the principles of Loudon as well as English landscape gardener Humphry Repton, designed Hollywood Cemetery, the first in Richmond, Virginia in 1848.
Garden historian Keith Morgan in his thesis wrote that Notman’s previous experience in cemetery design and the natural beauty of the site combined to make Hollywood Cemetery perhaps his most successful landscape commission.
Check out more history and photos on Hollywood Cemetery at the blog called Charles Luck Perspectives.
The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of England, visited Hollywood Cemetery in 1860 when he came to Richmond. His visit thus emphasized the importance of rural cemeteries for America, reflecting the English rural cemetery.
American garden designers, like the Committee from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society commissioned to build Mount Auburn, took inspiration from the century-old English landscape garden tradition.
Like Mount Auburn other rural cemeteries in America provided a park-like space to bury the dead and celebrate nature at the same time.