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Forest Hills Cemetery
95 Forest Hills Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

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Explore the Forest Hills Cemetery.

About the Cemetery:

Forest Hills Cemetery is one of the finest examples of the garden cemetery in the United States. It was founded in 1848 to provide a magnificent park-like setting to bury and remember family and friends. Set among the important jewels of Greater Boston’s “Emerald Necklace”— the linked collection of parks and green spaces (the “jewels”) that ring the city — Forest Hills Cemetery is a treasure trove of natural splendor and man-made beauty. In recognition of its unique qualities, Forest Hills Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

More than 275 rolling acres is the setting for art, sculpture, memorials and architecture that are admired around the world. And throughout the landscape, carefully cultivated bushes, trees and plantings contribute to an atmosphere that is both restful and arresting… an enchanting combination that celebrates the living, while commemorating the deceased. It is no wonder Forest Hills Cemetery was named one of the “1000 Greatest Places” in Massachusetts.

Forest Hills is indeed a special place. Wooded heights and shaded valleys alternate from side to side. There are grassy slopes and shaded lanes, a waterfall and fountain — and in the center of things, a serene lake surrounded by mature trees providing dappled shade, as well as comfortable seating from which to laze away a summer afternoon.

The famous and lesser known are at rest here — at peace in a truly beautiful setting. From the beginning in 1848, Forest Hills has been the resting place for some of the community’s most outstanding citizens, honored for service to their country, or for their success in politics, literature or the arts and sciences. It is also a resting place for every citizen, of any origin or accomplishment.

Today, Forest Hills is still an active burial ground, and is also a historic site, an open-air museum, and a 275-acre greenspace and arboretum. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, the distinctive Victorian landscape design features meandering paths, scenic vistas, and lovely lake Hibiscus. Many prominent historic, cultural and civic figures are buried here, including the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, suffragist Lucy Stone, poets Anne Sexton and e.e. cummings, playwright Eugene O’Neill, and sculptor Martin Milmore.

About the Horticulture:

Forest Hills Cemetery predates the famous Boston Emerald Necklace, and for most of the 19th century was also used by Boston residents as a public park. For the Victorians, it was a fashionable destination for weekend walks and picnics, offering city dwellers a green sanctuary to reconnect with nature. The grounds are laid out in a picturesque style with curving roads, terraced overlooks, and ornamental features such as Lake Hibiscus.

Henry A.S. Dearborn and the other civic leaders who developed the notion of the rural garden cemetery believed that the beautiful and harmonious environment created by skilled design and horticulture could have a consoling effect on mourners, helping them to heal from loss. Thus the park-like aspects of Forest Hills were conceived of as essential to its success as a place for burial and remembrance.

Dearborn’s design of Forest Hills was inspired by the great country estates of England and his own experience with horticulture. His interest in landscape design, experimental gardening, exotic and domestic trees and plants had earlier led him to become the first president of the Massachusetts Horticulture Society and to help found and design Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. At Forest Hills he worked with Daniel Brims, the first superintendent, to shape farmland and rocky hills into a rugged but elegant landscape. They planted thousands of diverse species of trees from around the world, as well as a variety of native species, some grown on Dearborn’s own estate.

Among the fine specimen trees you will find at Forest Hills are —

Japanese Maples
Japanese Umbrella Pines
Weeping Hemlocks
European Beeches, including a Weeping Beech that is over 120 years old
Mature Oaks
Sugar Maples
Horse Chestnuts
Tulip Trees
Several varieties of Dogwoods

A word about birding— With its century-old trees and ornamental lake, the Cemetery offers 275 acres of habitat and sanctuary to birds and other urban wildlife. Year round residents include: owls, red tail hawks, and herons. In May, birds migrate through Boston, touching down in the green spaces that thread through the city. Forest Hills is a favorite stopping place, so spring is a wonderful time of year to visit with binoculars.

Hours and Other Information:

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05/01/2023 08:00:00 12/31/2023 18:00:00 America/New_York Nature Exploration at Forest Hills Cemetery Explore the Forest Hills Cemetery. <b>About the Cemetery:</b> Forest Hills Cemetery is one of the finest examples of the garden cemetery in the United States. It was founded in 1848 to provi... Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston, MA 02130 false MM/DD/YYYY