Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery
Laurel Hill Cemetery was founded in 1836 as a retreat for the living as well as the dead. Since its earliest days, the founders and managers of the Cemetery recognized the great potential for recreation that the rural, picturesque site held. Laurel Hill preceded New York's Central Park by more than two decades, and was most certainly an inspiration for Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. Picnics, strolls, carriage rides and sightseeing were popular pastimes in Laurel Hill's early days. Now a final resting place for the famous and the ordinary, Laurel Hill claims status as a sculpture garden, arboretum, historical resource and the first cemetery to earn the designation of National Historic Landmark. Moreover, as a green space in the midst of urban encroachment, it harmonizes the environmental 3 R's (Reservation, Restoration and Reconciliation) and thus acts as an environmental classroom in addition to a historical one.
The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery was founded in 1978 by Drayton and Jane Smith and John Francis Marion. The Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promotion and preservation of Laurel Hill's historic character. In addition to developing and implementing educational programs at the Cemetery, the Friends sponsor special events, including Laurel Hill's famous Halloween festivities, and offer both public and private tours of the site, often in collaboration with local schools, non-profit groups, and historical organizations. From resetting headstones and restoring monuments to planting trees and rebuilding pathways, the Friends are working step by step to restore Laurel Hill's landscape to its former glory.