Sprawling Mt. Hope Cemetery

If some cemeteries are going to be high on the ghost radar tonight, Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester is certainly one of them. The graves sprawl over hills, down ravines, and between the trees for almost 200 acres. It’s the kind of cemetery where you can see pristinely kept family stones all clumped together, ominously solitary, crumbling stones that sit atop a hill or are nestled below a tree, or even see some theatrically crooked headstones leaning into the esker left behind by the glacial ice that occupied the space over 10,000 years ago.

Mt. Hope is also well known for the sealed catacombs that you can see near the north entrance. The building reminds me of an old church, but knowing what it holds and, more prominently, not knowing how many souls have been sealed up from there all the way to the alternative entrance at the Sunken Garden of Warner Castle on Mt. Hope Avenue is enough to give me the chills. 

Also, does anyone else find it disturbing that we often call the section of a cemetery “gardens?”

On the subject of castles, seeing the insanely cool mausoleums is my favorite part. They’re essentially tiny mansions for the dead – literally a forever home, though I’d be wary of any dinner invites coming from them. Some of these memorials are new and relatively plain, but the best ones are much older and entirely elaborate. Moss-covered stonework, glass paneling, decorated front lawns – those in residence certainly don’t want for aesthetic appeal.

But if the architecture alone isn’t enough to peak your eerie interest, consider the notable burials that might come around at dusk this evening – who wouldn’t want to hang out with Susan B. Anthony or Frederick Douglas this Halloween? Not to mention all of the famous locals that made Rochester what it is today, including Mr. Nathanial Rochester himself. 

I personally would love to have a conversation with Mrs. Margaret Woodbury Strong, whose philanthropy and avid collection of toys created the Strong Museum of Play.


Halie Solea 2013Story and photo by Halie Solea