Mt Hope Cemetery in Rochester had an anniversary last week. The cemetery was dedicated on Oct. 3, 1838. Last Saturday Mayor Tom Richards and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter were at a anniversary celebration at the cemetery. In the last 175 years the cemetery has grown in size. Originally it was about 54 acres and now it is about 176 acres and has about 350,000 people buried there. At the time it was dedicated people wanted the cemetery outside of the the center of the City for reasons of health.
There have been other changes in the cemetery over the last 175 years. The original entrance (picture at right) had been replaced in 1875. The office moved from the north entrance to the current location at the southern entrance. The old gazebo fell into disrepair and was destroyed. Another gazebo was built from the original architectural drawings. A tower was on the top of section I in the early days but disappeared sometime after 1900.
I recent had some correspondence with Joel S. who asked the simple question; Where were the old public grounds? The public grounds were for people who couldn’t afford to purchase a grave. It turned out that it opened up a interesting but sad story of Mt. Hope Cem. This map from 1846 shows that the early public grounds were in 2 places. A small lot in what is now the northwest part of section C and also what is now section MM. From another map dated 1885 the small public ground is gone and now labeled as section C. A map from 1890 still shows the public ground in what would become section MM. By 1900 it appears that all the public graves have been moved to the newer public ground that is to the west of the “Old Single Graves” section. It also appears that when the burials were moved that they were in smaller graves as many rows of public graves were put in just 3 rows in the new public ground. I’m not sure why the old public graves were moved as the cemetery had greatly increased in acreage some years before the move.
Mt. Hope Cemetery is also where graves from earlier cemeteries in Rochester were moved to. East Cem., West Cem, Friends (Quaker) Cem, and West Brighton Cem. were all moved to Mt. Hope in the 1800s. Graves were found in 1984 in Highland Park. They were later found out to be part of a cemetery for the old Poor House. Those graves eventually were reburied in Mt. Hope Cemetery.