OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, 1855
54. Order of Exercises at the Dedication of Sleepy
Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Sept. 29, 1855, 2, P.M. [printed
program] (Concord: B. Tolman, 1855). Letterpress on paper.
Emerson delivered the address at the dedication of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on September 29, 1855. Today, Sleepy Hollow is a tourist destination for thousands of pilgrims to Concord, including many who come specifically to see Emerson’s final resting place.
Laid out on land purchased from the estate of Deacon Reuben Brown, Sleepy Hollow was named, according to George Bradford Bartlett in his 1880 Concord Guide Book, for the natural “amphitheatre” that “had borne the name of Sleepy Hollow long before it was thought of as a burial place.” The choice of name may or may not also have reflected local familiarity with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In his dedication address, Emerson remarked upon Sleepy Hollow’s “seclusion from the village in its immediate neighborhood,” which had long made the area “an easy retreat on a Sabbath day, or a summer twilight.”
The plans for the cemetery were drawn up by landscape architects Horace William Shaler Cleveland and Robert Morris Copeland. In their design, Cleveland and Copeland avoided the imposition of a geometric grid of lots over the terrain, preferring instead to place lots on paths and drives that followed the natural outlines of the land, and respecting native trees and plants. Cleveland’s sense of landscape design was informed by Emerson’s approach to aesthetics. In his speech at the dedication of Sleepy Hollow, Emerson extolled the natural landscape as the proper focus of the landscape architect: “Modern taste has shown that there is no ornament, no architecture alone, so sumptuous as well disposed woods and waters, where art has been employed only to remove superfluities, and bring out the natural advantages.”
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