Mount Auburn Cemetery, which opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1831 was the first landscaped American Cemetery. Springfield Cemetery soon followed Mount Auburn’s lead and opened in 1841. Garden cemeteries, such as Springfield Cemetery, are called “rural cemeteries” even though most are in or near urban centers, but of their carefully designed park-like landscapes of rolling hills; valleys; willow, cypress, and pine stands; and exotic paintings; winding paths; and well-sited, appropriately and artificially aged-looking Gothic or Egyptian architecture – all providing an atmosphere of peace, contemplation, and order.
The site for Springfield Cemetery was originally known as Martha’s Dingle, a site of hills, ravines, brooks, and a natural bird sanctuary. The dingle had once been owned by Martha Ferre. Martha sold the land to Alexander Bliss, a local businessman to raise a dowry. On May 28, 1841 the founding member of Springfield Cemetery purchased the 20 acres of land from Alexander Bliss, or the site known as Martha’s Dingle.In March 1845 the proprietors of Springfield Cemetery voted to build a gateway, designed by William B. O. Peabody, Unitarian minister and founding member, at the Maple Street entrance, the present main entrance, known as Cemetery Lane. It was to symbolize the division between the “city of the living” and the “city of the dead”.
On Saturday, October 4th, Regreen Springfield, in partnership with the Federated Garden Clubs of Massachusetts and the Springfield Garden Club planted new Pink Flowering Dogwood trees along Cemetery Lane to help restore the historic entry to the Cemetery. The original entry canopy was decimated by old age and the storm events of 2011. The new trees will help restore this design element that is integral to the experience of visitors as they enter the site.
Over 2o volunteers from Cathedral, East Longmeadow and Minnechaug High Schools, along with members of the Springfield Garden Club and Regreen Springfield worked on getting the trees planted and the area cleaned up. All of the trees were mulched and immediately added to the beauty of Cemetery Lane.