Recreation Rules and Regulations
Rural or garden cemeteries like Mount Olivet were built during a special movement in funerary history. These were alternatives to the age-old church graveyard tradition brought over from Europe by the original colonists of the 1600's and 1700's. Beginning in the 1830's, new "burying grounds" were generally placed outside of central downtown areas. These were places with winding roads, trees, exotic plants and flowers, complete with picturesque vistas. The visitor could leave behind the mercantile world outside the cemetery gates and enter into the space where he or she could meditate and come into contact with spirituality and truly concentrate.
Aside from the obvious necessity as final resting places for the departed, "rural cemeteries" became important spaces for recreation as well, built at a time when there weren't public parks, art museums, or botanical gardens in American cities. Suddenly, residents had within their reach, large pieces of ground, filled with beautiful sculptures and horticultural art. People flocked to cemeteries for picnics, strolling, and carriage rides. Mount Olivet was no exception.
As the name states, Mount Olivet Cemetery is a cemetery, not a public park. However, we openly welcome hundreds of people each day who enter our gates for recreational purposes, while conducting themselves in a respectable and reverent manner. These folks also become extra eyes and ears for our cemetery management and staff, frequently alerting us if they notice a problem on our grounds, suspicious activity or simply see something askew or unusual.
Eight miles of paved roadway winds around, and throughout, the 130 acre locale dotted with thousands of monuments—many representing magnificent works of art made from granite, marble, slate and sandstone. It's certainly ironic that a place primarily associated with the institution of death such as Mount Olivet, is often the scene of such vitality and activity on any given pleasant weather day, offering health and exercise opportunities to our recreational users community. The founders of the "rural cemetery" movement, along with those who founded Mount Olivet would be proud.