Mount Auburn Cemetery Opens Its Doors To More Visitors With New Entrances

Photo: Chaiel Schaffel/WBZ NewsRadio

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Mount Auburn Cemetery unveiled five new pedestrian entrances during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

“Mount Auburn Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark that is at an inspiring and pivotal time in its deep history,” said President and CEO Matthew Stephens.

“And these new entrances reflect that and an organizational commitment to make Mount Auburn more welcoming, accessible, and safer for all — and are a reminder that more than an active cemetery, this is an urban oasis and community resource.”

Stephens was joined by local community members, as well as State Representative Steven Owens and representatives from the City of Watertown’s Community Development & Planning Department, to celebrate the new walk-in entrances.

The project’s goal is to help more people access the cemetery, which spans 175 acres across Watertown and Cambridge.

A donor funded the pedestrian entrances project, which took around a year to complete.

Photo: Chaiel Schaffel/WBZ NewsRadio

Stephens explained that while some people visit the space for the cemetery itself, other people enjoy walking around and having access to nature.

“When you come here, it’s quite possible there will be another community member who will be having the saddest day of their life. Simultaneously, though, there are people who have told me, ‘The happiest day of my life happened here.’”

Photo: Chaiel Schaffel/WBZ NewsRadio

With the five new pedestrian entrances, including four that have locally-made custom gates, “the hope is really just to make it physically easier to get into Mount Auburn,” he said.

Before the new gates were opened, the primary way to enter the cemetery was the main entrance, which also served as the entrance for cars.

“Each of the gates has an individual tree leaf motif engrained into the design,” described Stephens.

The gates were designed by the Boston architectural firm William Rawn Associates, and each entrance also features new plantings and parking for bicycles.

Specifically, the four gates incorporate elements of ginkgo, elm, oak, and sugar maple trees. “We have the best specimens of those individual species you’ll find anywhere,” shared Stephens.

The cemetery has over 5,500 trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world.

Photo: Courtesy of Mount Auburn Cemetery

Mount Auburn Cemetery was established in 1831 and is home to over 100,000 permanent residents, including famous and influential figures like Senators Henry Cabot Lodge and Charles Sumner, arts patron Isabella Stewart Gardner, poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Creeley, chef Joyce Chen, and broadcaster Curt Gowdy.

It’s open to the public 365 days a year as a green space and active cemetery, and around 200,000 people visit each year.

WBZ NewsRadio's Chaiel Schaffel (@CSchaffelWBZ) reports.

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