Ray Tubbs – Main St. Entrance
In 1709 Hartford authorized the purchase of one acre for it’s second burying ground from John Pantry for its 2nd burying ground, this being for its citizens of its 3rd Ecclesiastical Society (now East Hartford) on the east side of the Great River.
Over time this burry-ground became known as Center Cemetery. Its first known marker was in 1710 for Thomas Trill, a veteran of the Narragansett Wars, but his marker no longer exists. With later purchases, the cemetery reached its present size of just over 12 acres. Sold out since the mid 20th century, it contains some 5,650 gravestones.
This initial selection of 30 podcast sites is concentrated in the older sections in the front half of the cemetery, ranging from the oldest marker of 1712 for Obadiah Wood through the Civil War era, and with a few exceptions reaching as far as 1895.
As the oldest surviving link of East Hartford to its long history, Center Cemetery is by far the largest contributing historic asset of the Central Ave. – Center Cemetery National Historic District established in 1993, and is deservedly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Center Cemetery, is one the most important and interesting Colonial cemeteries of the Connecticut River Valley and of the state as a whole.
It is one of the most striking examples of the mixing of Connecticut Valley softer brown or sandstones with hard eastern granite schists. The more classical white marbles become popular in the early 1800s.
New England 18th century gravestone markers are valued not only as notable examples of American folk art, but, at its most original, arguably America’s first indigenous art form.
Two major traditions of marker carving in colonial Conn. are the Eastern Conn. Ornamental style, mostly granite/schist, and the Connecticut Valley style mostly of sandstone.
Center Cemetery has numerous fine examples of both styles, done by such notable colonial Connecticut stone carvers as brothers William and Peter Buckland,
Gershom Bartlett, Aaron Haskins, Thomas Johnson, and Ebenezer Drake.
Recognized as masters of the genre for their high technical skill and creativity, they are among those carvers who set the standards for stone art throughout most of the Colony and well up and down the entire River Valley.
No longer an active cemetery, Center Cemetery now assumes new roles to keep its own place in the town’s cultural fabric of the 21st century.
- It’s a place of tranquil respite from the urban discordance that surrounds it.
- It’s a green link between the Town Green on one end and an entrance to the Hockanum Linear Park at the other.
- It’s a place to search for genealogical connections.
- It’s roadway grid is ideal for jogging and power walking.
- It’s a place for peaceful contemplation; a rest under a tree; an alfresco lunch break.
Each stone is a portal to town and regional history – walk through and explore.